• Thu. Sep 21st, 2023

UGANDA, Karamoja | Real Muloodi News | The highly anticipated trial of State Minister for Karamoja Affairs, Agnes Nandutu, regarding the diversion of iron sheets meant for vulnerable people in Karamoja, faced a potential setback on the 25th May 2023 when the hearing was scheduled.

The Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court was prepared to hear the evidence of the first two prosecution witnesses against Nandutu.

However, her defence lawyers, led by Mr Caleb Alaka and Mr Charles Wamukoota Nandaah, made a surprise move by applying to block the iron sheet trial.

In their application, the defence lawyers requested the court to refer a question to the Constitutional Court for interpretation and to halt the trial.

They argued that the offence of dealing with suspect property, as defined under Section 21 A (1) of the Anti-Corruption Act, 2009, as amended, lacks a clear definition as required by Article 28 (12) of the Constitution.

The defence claimed that the ambiguity in the particulars of the offence introduced another offence, making it impossible for their client to receive a fair trial.

According to Mr Alaka, the amended Act under which Minister Nandutu is charged was intended to prosecute individuals who conceal or hide the property of suspects who have been convicted.

He stated that the offence of dealing with suspect property is meant to address the mandatory confiscation of property belonging to convicted individuals. The defence lawyers decided to test the ambiguity of this provision by filing a petition before the Constitutional Court.

Chief State Attorney David Bisamunyu opposed the defence’s application, urging the judge to dismiss it. He argued that there is no question in need of constitutional interpretation and that the defence’s move is merely a delaying tactic.

Bisamunyu emphasized that the Constitution calls for a speedy and fair trial, and such applications often hinder the pursuit of justice and burden the justice system.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Presiding Judge Jane Okuo Kajuga scheduled the delivery of her ruling for next Monday 29th May 2023.

The judge will consider the defence’s application for constitutional interpretation and decide whether to halt the trial.

The ruling on the defence’s application will have significant implications for Nandutu’s trial. If the court grants the request for constitutional interpretation and halts the trial, it could potentially delay the proceedings while awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision.

On the other hand, if the defence’s application is dismissed, the trial will proceed as scheduled, with the prosecution presenting their witnesses and presenting the evidence against Nandutu.

The court’s ruling will determine whether the charges against Nandutu are sufficiently defined and whether she will proceed with the trial.

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