KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court has released on bail the state minister of Karamoja affairs, Hon Agnes Nandutu in the ongoing Karamoja Iron Sheets scandal.
Ms Nandutu today appeared before the presiding trial judge Lady Justice Jane Okuo Kajuga who ruled to grant bail to the minister owing to her medical condition, adding that evidence has been provided to show that Nandutu is sickly with a likelihood of the sickness worsening, noting that prison authorities have not shown proof they can handle her sickness.
“No proof has been provided to dispute the author of the medical report is not a medical doctor. I, therefore, see no reason to reject the medical report,” Justice Kajuga said on Thursday afternoon.
“I am of the view that the minister has proved she is medically ill and under treatment to avoid the reoccurrence of a blood clot. No medical report from any other medical personnel has been tendered to dispute this.”
Justice Kajuga also dismissed the fears of the DPP that Nandutu is likely to abscond once granted bail, basing the assertion on claims that when she learnt of the police summons, she went into hiding and therefore, dismissed the same as not proven, noting it is just speculation.
“It is based more on suspicion than on fact. I cannot reach the conclusion that the accused had disappeared on the knowledge that she was wanted as a suspect. There is no formal proof of abscondment.”
The judge however said in order to allay fears of escape, it is prudent that stringent terms are imposed while granting Minister Nandutu bail.
Lady Justice Okuo directed Nandutu to pay a ssh10 million cash bond whereas each of the three sureties is to pay shs50 million non-cash bond.
Nandutu was also asked to deposit two titles of her land in Mukono whereas one of her sureties has also been asked to deposit the title of his land located in Namugongo.
“The accused should deposit her passport with the court and should not travel outside the jurisdiction of this court without permission,” Justice Okuo ruled.
The judge said Nandutu will report to court as directed in the main case where trial has been scheduled to kick off on May 25, 2023.
Nandutu, who is also the Bududa district Woman MP, pleaded not guilty to charges of dealing with suspect property, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years in jail upon conviction.
She is accused of receiving 2,000 iron sheets meant for the people of Karamoja, but the batch she reportedly returned to the Office of the Prime Minister was said to have been short by 383 iron sheets.
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