KAMPALA. The office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (ODPP), has rejected the request of the aide to suspended junior labour minister Herbert Kabafunzaki, to plead guilty to the Shs5m bribe charges that he is facing alongside his boss.
Sources privy to this case, intimated to Daily Monitor yesterday that the request of Mr Brian Mugabo to undergo plea bargaining in this matter, if allowed by the ODPP, would weaken the case and also absolve the co-accused including the minister.
Mr Mugabo had in his May 7, 2018 letter to the Kololo-based Anti-Corruption Court, stated of how he had had a deep reflection and wanted to take personal responsibility for his corruption acts by embracing plea bargaining process.
The suspended minister is accused of receiving a Shs5m bribe from Aya Group chairman Mr Hamid Mohammed Mohammed in exchange of clearing his name of the sexual harassment allegations.
The sexual assault allegations had been brought against Mr Hamid by his former female employee at the then Hilton Hotel last year, which allegations have since been dropped by the DPP for lack of evidence.
“I wish to sincerely apologise for my actions of asking for money and receiving the same from Aya. I thought I would make quick money out of the complainant (Mr Hamid), but my actions have landed me into problems and I regret. I wish to take personal responsibility and avoid wasting court’s time,” suspect Mugabo’s letter to the Anti-Corruption Court reads in part,
adding: “I am kindly asking that I be allowed to plea bargain on this matter.”
The minister is jointly charged with Mr Mugabo who wants to plead guilty and Bruce Lubowa, an interior designer from Wakiso District who was recently admitted at Butabika hospital after he developed depression coupled with suicidal thoughts.
Video extracts obtained from Kampala Serena Hotel’s CCTV camera footage that captured the alleged bribery acts of April 8, 2017, showed how Mr Mugabo hid the Shs5m bribe under the carpet behind curtains in the corridors leading to the guest rooms.
However, the video footage did not show minister Kabafunzaki receiving the said bribe from Mr Hamid.
It had been anticipated that court would consider Mr Mugabo’s request yesterday and have him convicted and sentenced.
“We wrote and initiated a plea bargaining with the ODPP, my lord, we generated copies of the agreement and we expected to complete this process today so that we don’t bog down the court.” Counsel Evans Ochieng, Mr Mugabo’s lawyer addressed court.
In response, Mr Maxim Elizooba from DPP’s office, told court that while it’s true that Mr Mugabo had initiated a plea bargaining process, the chief government prosecutor was yet to come up with the final say.
To that effect, Justice Margaret Tibulya who was presiding over the trial, in her brief ruling, said until that time when the DPP has acted on the request of Mr Mugabo, the trial of all the suspects will continue.
Following the brief ruling of justice Tibulya, Detective Assistant Inspector of Police from Central Police Station in Kampala, Mr Julius Byansi took to the witness stand and testified.
In his brief testimony, the witness told court of how his superior instructed him to seek for court orders to enable him retrieve vital information from five telephone lines that they thought were used by the suspects in committing the alleged bribery crime.
However, out of the five lines he was given to investigate, none of them was registered in the names of any of the trio suspects.
Hearing resumes today.