KAMPALA– The Court of Appeal has quashed a 12-year sentence earlier given to two people for defrauding URA of Shs2.4 billion and ordered that they be tried afresh.
A ruling issued by justices Kenneth Kakuru, Stephen Musota and Percy Night Tuhaise indicated that Guster Nsubuga, a businessman, and Robinhood Byamukama, a former URA employee, had not pleaded to the charges, making the trial null and void.
The two were convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison by then head of the Anti-Corruption Court, Justice Paul Mugamba, after finding them guilty of unauthorized use and interception of computer services, electronic fraud, unauthorized access to URA data, and producing or selling devices or computer programmes designed to overcome security measures for data protection. They were also convicted of unauthorized access to customs computerized system contrary to section 191 of the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004.
They had also been fined each $45,000 for abusing the East African Community Customs Management Act 2004.
However, the two appealed, saying Justice Mugamba had ignored major inconsistences and contradictions in prosecution’s evidence and therefore convicted them wrongly.
On Monday, the three justices ruled that the lower court erred in law and fact in ignoring and allowing the illegal conduct of the prosecution by an unauthorized prosecutor and by a made foreign to known legal modes of commencing prosecution which thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
“The consequence of this finding is that there was no trial and therefore the appellants have to be retried, the conviction and sentence of the accused persons are hereby set aside,” the justices ruled.
They added: “The appellants’ bail is here by terminated and the bail money if any be refunded and the registrar of this court is ordered to send back the court files to the High Court of the Anti-Corruption division for retrial before another judge within 14 days from the date of delivery of this judgment.”