UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Lawyer Kenneth Kwesiga Bateyo has been fined USh26 million by the Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s court for his involvement in a fraudulent land transaction.
Businessman George William Ssalongo Kaggwa and land broker Chrispus Ssali have also been sentenced in the same case.
The court found them guilty of offences including obtaining money by pretence, forgery of a sales agreement, procuring the execution of documents by pretence, and conspiracy to commit a felony.
Former Buganda Road Chief Magistrate Sarah Tusiime, now Deputy Registrar, read out the sentence, imposing a fine of USh26 million on Bateyo, with a default sentence of three years in jail.
Bateyo was also ordered to pay compensation of USh60 million making a total of USh86 million in costs. Ssalongo Kaggwa and Chrispus Ssali received a ten-year jail term each and were ordered to compensate the victim with USh100 million each.
According to court records, the defendants knowingly presented a false sales agreement and forged a land title for a property in Lubowa, Wakiso District, to defraud Rashid Ndawula.
The prosecution argued that the accused obtained USh330 million from Ndawula by falsely claiming to sell him a 0.57-hectare piece of land.
During the proceedings, evidence showed that Ssalongo Kaggwa introduced the first prosecution witnesses to the fraudulent deal, and lawyer Bateyo, on multiple occasions, took them to his law firm, Kwesiga Bateyo and Company Advocates.
While Bateyo was acquitted of certain forgery and false documentation charges, he was convicted of nine other offences, including uttering a false document and a forged copy of a land sale agreement.
Throughout the trial, Bateyo maintained his innocence, claiming that he was approached by clients seeking his professional drafting services and had no prior knowledge of the parties involved.
However, the Chief Magistrate ruled that there was evidence of common intention among all the accused before the transaction took place.
Initially, Irene Achieng was also charged in the case and pleaded guilty, receiving an eight-year sentence.
During the sentencing process, the prosecution requested the court to consider factors such as the level of planning, the impact on the victim, and Bateyo’s status as a law enforcement officer.
The convicts cited being the sole breadwinners of their families and their advanced age as part of their defence.
The court considered factors such as the complainant’s loss, the psychological effect of the prolonged case duration since 2019, and the lack of remorse displayed by the convicts.
The court also emphasised the prevalence of such crimes in the country, the expectations placed on Bateyo due to his profession, and the attendance of court proceedings by the state.
The court highlighted that the convicts had failed to fulfil their responsibilities as fathers and husbands as the sole breadwinners of their families.
The masterminds of the crime were identified as Ssalongo Kaggwa and Chrispus Ssali, considering their age and level of involvement in the fraudulent transaction.
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