The Independent Team
Justice John Bosco Katutsi, head of the new Anti-corruption Court, on April 8 delivered what the public described as a landmark judgement in the fight against graft when he convicted former director of economic monitoring in Presidents Office, Teddy Seezi Cheeye, for embezzlement and forgery.
Cheeye was sentenced to 10 years in prison for embezzlement and three years for each of the six counts of forgery.
Justice Katutsi has built around himself an image of a no-nonsense judge in the eyes of the general public. During his career as a High Court judge,
Katutsi has handled high profile cases including one of former Tooro Kingdom Prime Minister John Katuramu who is serving a death sentence in Luzira Prison for murder, the murder case against MPs Reagan Okumu and Michael Ocula who were acquitted, and the rape case against FDC president Kizza Besigye, which the judge dismissed as an amateurish concoction of a charge.
Acquitting Besigye of rape charges, Katutsi castigated the state for framing up the charge in such a childish manner that no sane person would ever use it to convict even a petty thief.
He also ordered that Besigye be released on bail and that his continued incarceration on the basis of duplicate charges in the military court was illegal. Besigye was accordingly released on Katutsis orders.
After these judgements which were widely held as a slap in the face of the state, Justice Katutsi withdrew from hearing the second case of treason against Besigye.
He told The Independent last week that some government officials and some ideologues of the ruling NRM party had started accusing him in the media of favouring Besigye because the two (Besigye and Katutsi) come from the same district- Rukungiri.
|Some key cases he has presided over
a) Remanded Idi Amina’s wife for alleged smuggling in the late 1970s
b) 2001: Convicted former Toro Kingdom Prime Minister John Katuramu who is now serving a death sentence in Luzira prison for murder.
c) 2005: Two Members of Parliament from northern Uganda; Reagan Okumu and Michael Ochula. He acquitted them of murder.
d) 2006: Acquitted Kizza Besigye of the rape case, making a memorable ruling: The evidence before this court is inadequate even to prove a debt; impotent to deprive of a civil right; ridiculous for convicting of the pettiest offence; scandalous if brought forward to support a charge of any grave character; monstrous if to ruin the honour of a man who offered himself as a candidate for the highest office of this country.
e) April 2009: Convicted former Director of Economic Monitoring in the Internal Security Organisation under Presidents Office, Teddy Seezi Cheeyi for embezzlement of Global Fund money meant for treatment of HIV/Aids, malaria and TB.
Consequently, Katutsi withdrew from hearing the treason case, saying he did not want to be seen as an expert in â€œBesigyeism.
Then last year Justice Katutsi was appointed head of the Anti-corruption Court at the height of public and international outcry about the sky-rocketing corruption in Uganda and following demands by donors that people who had been implicated in abuse of the Global Fund money for treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, be prosecuted.
In his verdict on April 8 as head of the Anti-corruption Court, he ruled that by stealing money meant for treatment of people with HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, Cheeye was no different from a mass murderer and committed the offences with impunity and stupidity.
Since its formation last year, Cheeye is the second convict of the court following the previous conviction of former Uganda Television journalist Freddie Kavuma on similar charges.
Katutsi told The Independent that he is not a cadre to any one or any party but a cadre to the constitution. He said he strongly believes in the principles of justice.
He said he had never succumbed to influence from anyone be it the state or any other authority during his discharge of justice throughout his service as a judicial officer since 1972.
But he is also proud that no authority or person has ever defied his judgement throughout his career as an officer of Uganda’s Courts of Judicature since 1972. Due to his strong stand for justice and fairness, he resigned from the judiciary in 1980 after learning that the UPC chief Milton Obote was returning from exile and would be the head of state. Katutsi told The Independent that he resigned because he did not want to serve under the Obote regime.
Justice Katutsi comes from Rukonkoma village, Kashayo Parish, Bugangali, Rukungiri district.
He attended Kinyasano and Rushoroza primary schools for his primary education.
For secondary education, he went to the school he calls the best south of the Sahara Kigezi College, Butobere where he completed his O-Level. He joined Namilyango College for his A-Level and studied law at Makerere University, graduating in 1972.
He is married with nine children. Eight are graduates and two are lawyers- like father like child.
He enjoys playing golf for both exercising and socialisation.