KAMPALA, UGANDA: Legal Brains Trust has petitioned the Director of Public Prosecutions-DPP Jane Frances Abodo demanding explanations why the tax evasion case against businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba and his brother has not resumed.
In a petition signed by its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Ssemakadde, Legal Brains Trust contends that the trial of Basajjabalaba and his brother Muzamiru Basajjabalaba had stalled in the Anti-Corruption Court for six years as the duo opted to challenge the legality of their trial in superior courts.
He adds that last month, the brothers lost the case in their appeal before the Supreme Court and the DPP has not summoned them to face trial yet the Supreme Court cleared her to that effect.
“We understand that in the above matter which was decided on 19th November 2021, the Supreme Court cleared the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to continue with the prosecution of the petitioners in criminal case number 3/2018 at the Kololo based Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court”, reads the petition in part.
It adds, “we are concerned by the conspicuous silence of your esteemed office since then. Why haven’t you taken out criminal summons against the suspects to commence and conclude this very important trial?”
Legal Brains Trust adds that they need a response from the DPP before the end of the week.
However, when contacted, the spokesperson of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions Jacqueline Okui, said they are in the process of resuming the trial.
“The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is in the process of resuming the prosecution of the suspects. The Director of Public Prosecutions is in personal conduct of the matter”, said Okui.
Trouble for the brothers started way back in 2009 when government decided to compensate Basajjabalaba with 142 billion Shillings for the damages caused to him following government’s decision to cancel his contracts to develop and manage five city markets including, Shauriyako, Nakasero, Nakivubo and the Constitutional Square.
Out of the 142 Billion Shillings, Basajjabalaba was reportedly supposed to pay a tax worth 20 billion Shillings to Uganda Revenue Authority-URA, but he reportedly failed to pay it and was accordingly charged in the Anti-Corruption Court, remanded and later given bail together with his brother with whom they were accused of conspiring to evade tax, forgery of a court order, and uttering a false document.
But the brothers challenged the legality of their trial in the Court of Appeal and their case was dismissed and an order for their immediate trial was made.
The same decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court on November 19, 2021 by the Supreme Court Justices in a majority decision of six against one, the reason now Legal Brains Trust is following up the matter with the DPP.
In March 2020, the Constitutional Court Justices led by Justice Kenneth Kakuru ordered Basajjabalaba and his companies to refund to government all the money that was illegally paid to him as compensation for losing the tender to manage the markets and the Constitutional Square.
The Justices noted that the compensation money were paid to Basajjabalaba and his companies illegally following a contract that he had entered into with the defunct Kampala City Council without the advice of the Attorney General.
The decision followed a partly successful petition by Legal Brains Trust through their lawyer Ssemakadde who had asked court to direct Basajjabalaba, his companies and all the government officials implicated in this compensation saga to refund it as it had reportedly been obtained fraudulently.
However, both Basajjabalaba and Legal Brains Trust have since appealed against this matter and it’s also pending hearing in the Supreme Court.