The Anti Corruption Court is tomorrow expected to pass its sentence on former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Geoffrey Kazinda, following his conviction for fraud related charges a week ago.
According to the law, Kazinda, who has been on remand at Luzira prison since late last year, stands to be imprisoned for up to seven years or more.
On Wednesday last week, presiding Judge David Wangutusi, found Kazinda guilty of 29 counts of abuse of office, forgery, making a document without authority and unlawful possession of government stores. One count of forgery is an alternative count.
The Judge however, reserved the sentencing for tomorrow.
The law provides that once convicted, one is liable to imprisonment up to seven years for making a document without authority and three years for forgery and for unlawful possession of government stores.
But Kazinda could be imprisoned for more than seven years if the Judge in his verdict orders that the sentences run ‘consecutively’ instead of ‘concurrently’.
Consecutive sentences are served one after another while concurrent ones are served at ago.
There is also an option of him paying a fine and surviving custodial sentence though he can’t regain his freedom since he has other two separate pending files also about alleged fraud in the OPM.
Center to this fraud is that Kazinda was found guilty of forging 26 signatures of his then boss and former Permanent Secretary in the Office of Prime Minister (OPM), Pius Bigirimana, with the intention to defraud the office of billions of shillings.
The documents that he forged included; Security Papers and Withdraw Forms both very high sensitive documents that are used in transfer of huge sums of money. They were recovered by police from the home of Kazinda’s mother in Bukoto, Kampala, after a thorough search.
Court relied on circumstantial evidence to link Kazinda to forgery charges since there was no witness who saw him forge Bigirimana’s signature. However, no money was lost in this case though prosecution says he had intentions of defrauding OPM if the situation had not been arrested early.
During mitigation process last Wednesday, Principal State Attorney, Jane Frances Abodo, asked court to hand Kazinda the maximum custodial sentence of seven years to send a strong signal to those involved in corruption since the vice is on the increase.
Abodo noted that the fact that Kazinda had in possession government property at his mother’s home, indicated that there was an intention to defraud donor and the tax payers’ money.
She also asked court to put into consideration the fact the OPM is a sensitive office since it’s where the prime minister and the First Lady Janet Museveni sit.
On the contrary, Kazinda’s lawyers led by Augustine Idoot, asked court to give their client a lenient sentence, preferably a fine instead of the custodial one, saying no money was lost in this matter.
Idoot also asked court to ignore putting into consideration the sensitivity about the OPM while passing its sentence, saying it’s like any other office.