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Court stops arrest of lawyer, Paul Wanyoto

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | High Court Judge, Lydia Mugambe issued an order stopping Police and the Directorate of Public Prosecution from arresting city lawyer, Paul Wanyoto. Wanyotto is wanted by the Anti-Corruption Court for allegedly kidnapping and defrauding two South Korean nationals Shillings 1.4billion.

He is charged together with eight other suspects including Samuel Nabeta Mulowooza, the Managing Director Eye Power Engineering Company and Police officers, Siraje Bakaleke, Robert Munezero, Innocent Nuwagaba, Robert Ray Asiimwe, Junior Amanya, Babu Gastavas and Kenneth Zirintuusa. The suspects are accused of extorting Shillings 1.4 billion from Park Seunghoon and Jang Shingu Un who had come to Uganda to purchase gold last year.

It is alleged that the officers connived with Wanyoto who was representing the South Korean businessmen and placed them at gunpoint at Acacia Mall in Kampala from where they took all the money they had. They later reportedly drove their victims to Katwe Police Stations and secured Air tickets with intentions of deporting them on the orders of Assistant Commissioner of Police, Siraje Bakaleke.

The suspects were intercepted by operatives from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and they were waiting to book their victims onto Rwanda Air because the first flight had left them. Seven of the suspects appeared before the Anti-Corruption court on September 21st and pleaded not guilty to the charges. Bakaleke and Wanyoto failed to show up on court despite several summons prompting court to issue criminal summons for their arrest.

The two petitioned the High Court Civil Division to block their arrest and trial. On November 2nd, Justice Musa Ssekana delivered a ruling dismissing Bakaleke’s application to stop his arrest and subsequent trial. However, Wanyoto has got temporary reprieve through the orders issued by High Court Judge, Lydia Mugambe.

In her ruling issued and signed in the presence of State Prosecutor Jeffery Atwine, Justice Mugambe, says the arrest would pre-empt the application filed by Wanyoto seeking to block his trial before the Anti- Corruption Court.

“To avoid a pre-empting of the application before court before its disposal, the applicant should not be arrested until 15th November 2018 when the application shall be disposed of,” the order reads in part. In the main application, Wanyoto argues that the charges against him were sanctioned in bad faith.

Through his lawyers of Web Advocates and Solicitors, Wanyoto contends that the DPP acted under the influence of the Commandant Criminal Investigations Department of Kampala Metropolitan Area, Johnson Olal despite lack of a formal complaint against him.

In his affidavit, Wanyoto states that he is a Director/ a shareholder in Ms. McKinley Resource Company Ltd together with Jang Seungkwon, Park Seunghoon and Ha Dong, whom they agreed with independently to transact monies on their Dollar and Shillings account in Diamond Trust Bank.

The agreement was reached on January 25th 2018 after the registration and incorporation of McKinley Resource Company Ltd, according to the documents before court.

Wanyoto alleges that it was agreed that the monies be secured from their Korean counterpart particularly Wang Yu, who is the Collective Principle and be remitted to the company account in Diamond Trust Bank.

This was reportedly done to comply with the regulatory and legal frame works regarding a foreign company before commencing business in Uganda.

Wanyoto explains that US$ 480,000 was remitted to the company account. He notes that before they could fully resolve the matters, his co-Directors/shareholders were arrested on allegations of terrorism and money laundering. According to Wanyoto, he received a phone call from Park Seunghoon who was locked up at Katwe police station informing him about their arrest.

He explains that after confirming the charges against his business partners it was agreed that he withdraws US$ 415,000 from the company account. Wanyoto notes in the affidavit that Jang, Park and Ha Dongsub instructed him as their lawyer to help secure their release and freedom.

US$ 30,000 was disbursed to him as instructions or legal fees. “Indeed the following day, I managed to secure the release of Jang, Park and Ha Dongsub”, reads Wanyoto’s affidavit in part. After their release, Wanyoto says they agreed that the South Koreans travel to Dubai to shed off their nasty experience before returning to Uganda.

He explains that he later handed over US$ 415,000 Dollars to Ha Dongsub in the presence of his co-directors Jang and Par and they parted ways since the group was heading to the airport.

Wanyoto says the decision by the police and DPP to slap him with charges was unreasonable and abuse of administrative power since there is no complainant in the case and no proof that he caused a financial loss to the company where he is a co-Director.

He says the actions by Police and DPP are meant to abuse his fundamental human rights and freedom since he did his job of securing police bond for his co-Directors as agreed.

Wanyoto now wants the Civil Division of High Court to issue a permanent injunction against the proceedings in the Anti-Corruption court. He also wants court to declare the actions of Police and DPP as illegal, saying they are trumped up.

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