News and Views
Elusive Basajjabalaba sent to Luzira prison
Businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba was last evening charged afresh with fraud arising from the payment of Shs142 billion in compensation by the government, and remanded to Luzira prison.
Mr Basajjabalaba appeared in the Anti-Corruption Court after the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) asked the Buganda Road Court to nullify an earlier private prosecution attempt over the same offence, saying the move was suspicious.
“The DPP, who has the mandate to prosecute public matters, this morning, (yesterday morning), successfully applied to the Buganda Road Court and the private prosecution charges were withdrawn. We shall now continue with the matter as a public prosecution,” said Ms Jane Kajuga Akuo, the DPP’s spokesperson.
“The DPP had sanctioned the charges against Mr Basajjabalaba last year and the police were looking for him. We were shocked to hear on Tuesday that he had been charged under a private prosecution.”
The private prosecution bid, she said, could have been intended to “frustrate and avoid the public prosecution by the DPP, since they are similar charges”.
Ms Kajuga said they were considering investigating the motive of the private prosecution, since it was well-known that the DPP had sanctioned criminal charges against Mr Basajjabalaba.
She asked why the businessman, who had not responded to police summons since last year, had swiftly responded to the Buganda Road Court summons issued on Monday to have him privately prosecuted.
The private prosecution had been instituted by an advocate, Mr Allan Mulindwa.
Mr Basajjabalaba denied the charges and was released on a cash bail of Shs30 million, but was arrested later at Entebbe Airport, as he tried to leave the country.
He has been charged with uttering a false document, forgery of a judicial document and conspiracy to defeat tax laws, the same charges that were read to him yesterday in the Anti-Corruption Court.
According to the charge sheet at the Anti-Corruption Court, Mr Basajjabalaba and his younger brother, Mr Muzamiru Basajjabalaba, the director of HABA Group, between 2010 and 2011, conspired to prevent or defeat the execution or enforcement of tax laws, evading taxes amounting toShs20 million. The money arose from the compensation by the government to his company.
The prosecution also alleges that on or about October 6, last year, he forged a consent judgement purporting to have been entered into between his company HABA and the Attorney General, agreeing that the payment of Shs142 billion would not be subjected to any taxes.
He denied the charges and Chief Magistrate Irene Akankwasa remanded him until 2pm today, to determine his bail application.
The decision could not be made yesterday, as the prosecution told court that it needed time to scrutinise the papers of his five sureties.
The State prosecutor, Ms Lillian Omara, said one of the sureties’ papers were questionable, as they had two LC letters from different places.
The businessman has been elusive, failing to honour countless police summons until he was picked at Entebbe International Airport