February 11, 2013

Mukula’s Fate to be Determined on March 13

Mike Mukula was on January 18 sentenced to four years in jail
Mike Mukula was on January 18 sentenced to four years in jail

The Anti-Corruption Court has set March 13 to determine the fate of jailed former health junior health minister, Mike Mukula.

The date was set by Justice David Wangutusi.

The judge set the date following the winding up of arguments by both defense and prosecution lawyers; who argued against and in favor of the conviction and the four year jail term handed to Capt. Mukula, respectively.

Capt. Mukula also the Soroti Municipality MP, was on January 18, found guilty of embezzling Shs210 million from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) account meant for advocacy in the office of the First Lady.

He was found guilty by Chief Magistrate, Irene Akankwasa.

However, being dissatisfied by the judgment, Capt. Mukula through his lawyers, appealed.

He was represented by host of senior lawyers including ; Ateenyi Tibaijjuka, David Mpanga, George Omuyonkol, Ernest Kalibala, Robert Matove, and Oscar Kambona,

When the appeal came up for hearing last week, Mr Mpanga submitted that Capt. Mukula was wrongly convicted over an embezzlement charge and yet he was not a government employee.

He further argued that basing on failing to prove that vital ingredient, the embezzlement charge therefore could not stand before asking court to quash Mukula’s conviction and also  set aside  his four year sentence.

The Constitutional Court ruling he referred to was delivered in 2006. It was lodged before court by concerned politician, Mr Darlington Sakwa ahead of 2006 general elections.

Mr Sakwa had unsuccessfully argued that ministers needed to resign their posts if they wanted to contest for an elective political post.

The public prosecutor, Mr Sydney Asubo, today, asked the court to uphold the lower court’s conviction and the four year jail term, arguing that ministers are employees of government and that the embezzlement charge stands.

Asubo argued that Capt. Mukula was charged under the penal code Act and is an employee of government under the executive arm of government and his salary is paid from the consolidated fund.

Adding that the convict falls squarely under the charge of embezzlement.

However, in alternative, Mr Asubo asked court to find Capt. Mukula guilty of another charge of theft in case it holds that ministers are not government employees.

Capt. Mukula’s other lawyer Tibaijjuka, argued that the trial Chief Magistrate erred in law when she believed the prosecutions’ case that his client had stolen the Shs210 million before she could hear his side.

Mr Tibaijjuka argued that despite the fact that his client signed on the three vouchers totaling to Shs263 million, he did not receive the money since he was in Munyonyo and it was instead kept in the ministry’s safes.

In reply, Mr Asubo said the trial Magistrate had to believe the prosecution case in order to ask Capt. Mukula to defend himself by accounting for the Shs210 million that was missing.

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