The Director of Public Prosecutions Jane Frances Abodo has directed the head of Anti-Corruption department in her office to handle the complaint demanding for the immediate trial of businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba and his brother on charges of tax evasion worth 20 billion Shillings.
The directive by Abodo follows a December 7th 2021 compliant filed to her office by a not-for-profit organization Legal Brains Trust through its executive officer Isaac Ssemakadde.
Legal Brains Trust in its petition demanded an explanation as to why the DPP has been silent about resuming the trial for Basajjabalaba and his brother Muzamiru Basajjabala yet the Supreme Court which had been the cause for the stalling of the trial for about seven years had since okayed for its resumption in its November 19th 2021 decision.
“We are concerned by the conspicuous silence of your esteemed office since then, why haven’t you taken out criminal summons against the suspects to commence and conclude this very important trial?” wrote Ssemakadde.
But in her response to Ssemakadde’s petition, Abodo acknowledges its receipt and directs her Anti-Corruption Department to take it on.
“Please handle the complaint accordingly and give feedback to complainant and also keep me updated on your decision,” reads the December 9th letter.
The DPP adds, “By copy of this letter, the complainant is advised to make a follow up with your office on this matter.”
Trouble for the brothers started way back in 2011 when it was decided to compensate Basajjabalaba with 142 billion shillings for the damages caused to him due to government’s decision to cancel his lease contracts to develop and manage five city markets.
Basajjabalaba was reportedly supposed to pay a tax worth 20 billion shillings but he failed to pay it and was accordingly charged in the Anti-Corruption Court, remanded and later given bail together with his brother with whom they were accused of conspiring to evade tax, forgery of a court order, and uttering a false document.
But the brothers challenged the legality of their trial in the Constitutional Court and their case was dismissed and an order for their immediate trial was made.
The same decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court on November 19th 2021 by the Supreme Court Justices in a majority decision of six against one thereby paving way for the resumption of their trial.
In March 2020, the Constitutional Court Justices led by Justice Kenneth Kakuru ordered Basajjabalaba and his companies to refund to government all the money that was illegally paid to him as compensation for losing the tender to manage five city markets.
The Justices noted that the compensation monies were paid to Basajjabalaba and his companies illegally following a contract that he had entered into with the defunct Kampala City Council without the advice of the Attorney General.
The decision followed a successful petition by Legal Brains Trust through their lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde who had asked court to direct Basajjabalaba, his companies and all the government officials implicated in this compensation saga to refund it as it had reportedly been obtained fraudulently.
However, both Basajjabalaba and Legal Brains Trust have since appealed against this matter and it is also pending hearing in the Supreme Court.
It’s against this background that the Legal Brains Trust petitioned the DPP with an interest of having Basajjabalaba and his brother prosecuted.