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Mak gold scam suspects acquitted

Humphrey Tumwesigye of Mujurizi Arinaitwe and Byamukama Advocates, counsel for the accused welcomed the judgement

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  |  City Hall Magistrate Worship Beatrice Khainza has acquitted all the five suspects accused of defrauding Canadian businessman Assi Soubhi Muhammad in a fake gold scam at Makerere University.

Court in its ruling on Thursday noted that the charges brought against the accused had glaring gaps, inconsistent and full of contradictions.

The five suspects Richard Kamugisha, Stella Kalungi Dindi, David Kironde, Yazidi Kabonge Wamala and Nasser Kibirige were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, obtaining money by false pretence, criminal trespass, impersonation, and forgery and uttering out a false document.

The accused were arrested on January 10, 2018, from Makerere University Physical Chemistry laboratory while pretending to carry out another gold test. They were charged for pretending to sell Soubhi Muhammad seven kilograms of pure gold valued at USD 191,100 (700 million Shillings) which they did not have.

Court agreed that while the businessman lost money, he did not pay it to anyone among the accused. While the state had argued that US$8200 (approximately 30million shillings) was found in Richard Kamugisha’s house it did not prove that the serial numbers of the said money matched the serial numbers of the money paid by Soubhi Muhammad to the suspects.

On the case of impersonation, the suspects had been accused of masquerading as lab technicians of Makerere and video evidence tabled and viewed in court. Court however says none of the people in the video could be matched with the accused.

“The video was viewed by court. I had the occasion to view the video but I observed that none of the accused looked like the appeared in the video. It is illogical for court to conclude that any of them made a representation of those in the video. I therefore acquit all the accused on that count in this court,” Her worship Khainza ruled.

They were also accused of forgery where state-produced documents including an assay report and cash payment slip with the intent to defraud.

However, in her ruling, Khainza indicated that Richard Kamugisha who is accused of forgery and uttering out a false document had told court that whereas he was at Makerere University on January 10, 2018, he was not at the institution for the charge they are accused of, allegedly committed on November 25th 2017 and denied being the person recorded in the video.

“I agree with defence counsel that indeed the masked man could not be identified. Nonetheless, in my view, the man in the video appeared taller than A3 [Richard Kamugisha],” Her Worship Khainza said in her ruling.

Court also ruled that whereas the state’s handwriting expert had matched signatures of a receipt invoice acknowledging receipt of US$700 approximately 2.6 million shillings for lab test for the 7 kilos of gold bars with a signature for Nasser Kibirige, one of the suspects who acted as a lab technician, it was not sufficient enough to convict the accused as the document was updated.

“In my view, this is a case where indeed somebody lost money. It is also a case where court has observed that a set-up was made in anticipation of arresting the people who might have taken money from the complainant and the only way was to bring Stella Birungi into this business,” Magistrate rules.

“Unfortunately, the prosecution case is full of gaps, inconsistencies and contradictions. The accused persons denied being at Grand Imperial Hotel where the money was paid and Kamugisha tasked the investigating officer to present video footages of CCTV of his presence at Grand Imperial by the time Soubhi handed money to a one Tony whom the state failed to produce,” she added.

The magistrate also ruled that in addition to detaining the accused for 13 days contrary to the mandatory 48 hours corroborates torture and coercion of the accused by the law enforcers.

“On the evidence relied on by the prosecution, I find it unreliable regarding what happened on the 25th November 2017 thus weakening the prosecution case. Given the contradictions, there was need for more evidence to link each of the accused persons with the offences charged,” she ruled.

Humphrey Tumwesigye of Mujurizi Arinaitwe and Byamukama Advocates, counsel for the accused said he was happy.

Tumwesigye said he wants police to provide his clients properties including money, laptops, phones and other valuables that the state confiscated.

Soubhi said this was “truly a black day not just for me personally, but also for Uganda in general and for the system of justice in Uganda in particular.”

“On the personal front, I have had a large chunk of my life wasted in pursuit of this case, causing me great emotional distress, being kept away from my home and young family. I have even felt at times, that my personal safety was at risk. It has also caused great disruption for my business for more than 2 years and a huge financial loss nearing US$400,000 [about 1.4bn shillings], which will undoubtedly bankrupt me,” Soubhi says.

He says he had complete faith in the thoroughness of investigations carried out by the police, and in the fairness and impartiality of the judicial system. He appealed to President Museveni to intervene and allow him get back his money lost in the scam.

“Mr President: if anyone can address this plague of corruption in your beloved Uganda and the lack of justice for victims like me, it would be you Sir. You are my last hope sir, to find a resolution for my case and to help me to get back the huge losses I suffered as a result of being defrauded by a bunch of crooks in Uganda, aided and abetted by a corrupt justice system,” he appealed.

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5 comments

  1. Soubhi Assi , victim

    Unfortunately the solid evidence which submit to the majistrat and she accepted enough to be convicted . But something wrong happened in the last few days at the court before judgment , im not sure what it is I will leave it to God because God know what going on with corruptions

  2. Following this judgement by the court, it is truly a black day not just for me personally, but also for Uganda in general and for the system of justice in Uganda in particular.
    On the personal front, I have had a large chunk of my life wasted in pursuit of this case, causing me great emotional distress, being kept away from my home and young family. I have even felt at times, that my personal safety was at risk. It has also caused great disruption for my business for more than 2 years and a huge financial loss nearing $400K, which will undoubtedly bankrupt me.
    More distressing is the fact that I had complete faith in the thoroughness of investigations carried out by the police, and in the fairness and impartiality of the judicial system and the judiciary, and that Uganda was moving forward and is transforming into a beacon of truth & justice for other African nations to follow.
    The reality however couldn’t be further from the truth, and all the talk about thorough investigations, a diligent judicial process and the exercise of impartiality was just idle talk, smoke & mirrors. With hind sight, it seems that those in charge, were just going through the motions to demonstrate that they are administering justice, when in reality, they have been corrupted and have already arrived at their conclusions of the case in favour of the fraudsters, at the expense of their innocent victims, even before the case got to court.
    I have a special plea to make to all those who love Uganda, to all the upstanding citizens of Uganda, to civil societies, to law enforcement agencies, to law practitioners at all levels including senior judges and above all, to His Excellency, President Yoweri K. Museveni , I wish to say this: Sir, the rule of law is not a luxury or a commodity to be bought and sold, it is in fact the very foundation on which nations are built and if it does not function as it should, it would be the sand foundation of a nation that will surely collapse. A prosperous society is one where no one is above the law, and justice is administered without fear, and without favour to no one regardless of their social status, connections or financial resources. Alas, what I have discovered in Uganda is that the law, can be sold & bought, and justice is exclusive for a section of society that is well connected with the authorities and who have the financial means to corrupt everything they touch.
    Mr President: if anyone can address this plague of corruption in your beloved Uganda and the lack of justice for victims like me, it would be you Sir. You have the power to lead, to inspire and to keep Uganda’s light shining brightly as it should be amongst nations who are determined to do what is good and what is right by their people.
    You are my last hope sir, to find a resolution for my case and to help me to get back the huge losses I suffered as a result of being defrauded by a bunch of crooks in Uganda, aided and abetted by a corrupt justice system.

  3. There’s only two explanations of the results of judgment on that case , NO.1 bribes with good amount involved , NO.2 threatened involved but in this case and most expert that No.1 most abvious , unfortunately, even the recording confession from main suspect on this case was submitted as evidence and accepted by majistrat as solid proof indicated all the names of group involved in scams and money split , and other relevant evidence , but again something wrong happened a day before judgment . What is it ??????

  4. There’s only two explanations of this matter at City Hall court with regarding of judgment on December 12 by majistrat Beatrice khainza , NO.1 Bribes with good amount of money involved which makes this case flip upside down on favor to the fraudsters , NO.2 threatened majistrat by the fraudsters people behind them specially one of the fraudsters father influence and power , but NO.1 more common which most of people in Uganda agreed with and more percentage common of manipulate court base on the result of her judgment . Unfortunately

  5. Im really dissapointed from the dicision of Beatrice khainza judgment , I will leave it to God to be the judge on her judgment I don’t know How much money those Crooks they bribes $$$$

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