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Court rules Kazinda wrongly convicted, erroneously served five years in jail

Kazinda was arrested in 2012 and charged with several counts of misconduct, including abuse of office, forgery, illegally making government documents and unlawful possession of government stores.

JUSTICE | The Court of Appeal has ruled that former Principal Accountant in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Geoffrey Kazinda, was “wrongly convicted” and “erroneously served a five-year jail term.”

A panel of three justices; Geoffrey Kiryabwire, Stephen Musota and Percy Tuhaise on Wednesday afternoon overturned Kazinda’s conviction after faulting High Court judge David Wangututsi of failing to  properly evaluate the evidence adduced before him and erroneously finding Kazinda guilty of abuse of office, forgery and being in  unlawful possession of government stores.

Kazinda was arrested in 2012 and charged with several counts of misconduct, including abuse of office, forgery, illegally making government documents and unlawful possession of government stores.

Sendo Cleaners

He was convicted on June 26, 2013 after nine months of trial. The 46-year-old completed his jail term on November 7, last year.

Shoddy investigations

Ruling on his appeal on Wednesday, the three justices concurred with Kazinda that Police and prosecution did shoddy investigations that failed to prove that the cash withdrawal forms and security papers bearing a forged signature of former OPM Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimnana  were indeed found at the home of his (Kazinda’s)  mother Teopista Nanfuka.

“This is because according to the evidence on record,  there was neither a search certificate nor any  photographic evidence tendered in court showing how Police search team retrieved the said documents from a room at Nanfuka’s residence,” said court.

The justices were persuaded by Kazinda’s submission that in absence of photographic evidence, the documents that formed a basis for his conviction could have been planted by the search team.

The court  has gone ahead to set aside Kazinda’s conviction on charges of being in unlawful possession of government stores on grounds that by the time of his arrest on July 22, 2012, he had not  yet handed over office as principal accountant in the OPM.

However, even though the justices ordered for Kazinda’s immediate release, he can not leave prison because he is still serving another five-year jail sentence handed to him by the Anti-Corruption Court for causing a Shs316 million loss in forged fuel receipts.

Kazinda has also since appealed against the said sentence.

The acquittal opens a wide door for Kazinda to sue for damages from wrongful sentence as well as the five years spent behind bars.

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