Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Supreme Court has issued orders staying the execution of the Constitutional Court’s decision which was permanently halting the proceedings on corruption charges against Geoffrey Kazinda, the former principal accountant officer in the Office of Prime Minister.
Kazinda has spent the last nine years in court facing trial for constructive possession of financial instruments, forging receipts and invoices, false accounting, making fraudulent payments, conspiracy to secure money outside authorized disbursement procedures, and living a standard of life beyond his known source of income. The trials started in 2012 in various courts.
In 2014, Kazinda ran to the Constitutional Court seeking among other things, to declare that the act by the directorate of public prosecutions to split the cases and sequentially initiating charges of offences founded on the same facts for which he was earlier on convicted contravened the constitution.
In August last year, Kazinda achieved victory when the constitutional court justices ruled that all the trials he had faced after his first conviction abused laws provided for under the Constitution.
In a majority judgement, Justice Stephen Musota who wrote the lead decision described the happening as double jeopardy saying that a person cannot be prosecuted for the same offences for which he has previously been acquitted or convicted, and at the same time one cannot be convicted twice on two different charges arising from the same conduct unless they are significantly different.
However, days after the judgment, the Attorney General appealed the Constitutional Court’s judgment saying that the decision raises several constitutional and legal issues that warrant serious judicial consideration by the supreme court.
Subsequently, in their February 12 ruling, a panel of seven Justices of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo stayed the execution of the Constitutional Court ruling.
“In the result, we accordingly grant the application as prayed and order that: The execution of the majority judgment and orders of the Constitutional Court (Kiryabwire, Cheborion, and Musota, JJA/JCC) dated 7th August 2020 in Constitutional Petition No. 30 of 2014 be and is hereby stayed pending the hearing and determination of the intended appeal by the applicant,” judges ruled.
The orders have been stayed until the determination or an appeal filed by the Attorney General seeking to challenge the Constitutional Court decision.
Even though the constitutional court had ordered for staying of several corruption proceedings involving Kazinda, he could not regain his freedom since he was battling other charges of accumulating abnormal wealth. In November last year, he was found guilty on the said and sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment.
Kazinda has suffered several losses and wins from the court. Besides his 2020 Constitutional Court win, the Court of Appeal acquitted him on charges of abuse of office and forgery in which he had been convicted and sentenced to 5 years and 2 years respectively.But the acquittal came in 2019 long after completing the sentence.