BBC ~ Uganda Chogm ministers face fraud charges

Posted October 5, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 2,360 views


BBC ~ A Ugandan court is to charge three ministers with corruption in relation to the 2007 Commonwealth summit.

The announcement came after angry complaints about selective justice when ex-Vice-President Gilbert Bukenya was taken into custody this week to await trial over the scandal.

A parliamentary committee had recommended the prosecution of all four men but MPs then voted to clear them.

But the anti-graft agency continued the case and charged Mr Bukenya in July.

He denies that he benefited from a $3.9m (£2.4m) deal to supply cars used to transport dozens of heads of state during the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).

He was initially granted bail but as his trial was referred to a higher court this week he was required to make a fresh application.

Mr Bukenya, who was sacked in May as part of a reshuffle in the wake of February’s elections, was taken on Monday to prison where he will remain until this is sorted out.

‘Exceedingly happy’

But the BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, says questions quickly arose about the imprisonment.

Some MPs from Mr Bukenya’s Buganda ethnic group threatened to demonstrate if his incarceration continued beyond Friday without a prosecution of the other ministers.

However, the Inspectorate of Government – the body charged with fighting corruption – told the BBC it was not pressured to announce the charges against the other ministers, who include Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa.

The agency’s spokesperson Munira Ali said they were being charged with abuse of office as well as financial loss and the ministers were expected to appear in court on 13 October as part of their ongoing investigations.

Kasiano Wadri, the current chair of Uganda’s Parliamentary Accounts Committee, said it was an important step.

“Let all of them be arraigned in court – I am exceedingly happy to learn that justice is now being done and that we’re no longer bent to selective prosecution,” he told the BBC.

Our reporter says the government is estimated to have lost some $150m in various scams during Chogm.

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