The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Jane Frances Abodo has withdrawn all charges of money laundering against Human Rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo.
In a letter dated 10th /09/2021 copied to the Resident State Attorney (in Anti-corruption), the Regional Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) officer Kampala Metropolitan Police Eastern region, Abodo informed the Chief Magistrate Anti-Corruption Court that she had decided to withdraw the case against Opiyo.
“This is to inform the court that the Director of Public Prosecution has decided to discontinue proceedings against Opiyo Nicholas charged with Money Laundering C/S. 3(c) 116 and 136(1)(a) of the Anti-Money Laundering Act as amended,”she said.
The withdrawal of the case comes just a few days to the deadline of the seven days High Court judge Lawrence Gidudu gave to government to complete investigating into the case against Opiyo or have the charges against him terminated. He argued that suspects should be accorded a fair and speedy trial.
“The court is mandated to balance the right of the State to prosecute offenders to punish crime in society with the right of an accused to have a fair, speedy and public trial before an impartial court. Consequently, I make the following orders to dispose of this application,” stated Justice Gidudu.
He added, “The prosecution (DPP) is given seven days from the date hereof, to commit the applicant (lawyer Opiyo) for trial before the High Court and disclose its case to the accused. For the avoidance of doubt, this is before the closure of business on September 15, 2021 (this Wednesday). If after September 15, the applicant (Mr Opiyo) has not been committed for trial to the High Court, then the prosecution of the applicant in criminal case 106 of 2020 shall stand terminated under section 17 (2) of the Judicature Act to prevent abuse of the process of the court by curtailing delays in prosecuting the applicant. There are no orders as to costs.”
Opiyo, the executive director of Chapter Four Uganda, was arrested in December last year and subsequently, charged with money laundering.
The prosecution alleges that Opiyo on October 8, 2020, at Absa Bank, Garden City Branch, in Kampala acquired $340,000 (about Shs1.2b) in the names of Chapter Four Uganda, which was proceeds of crime.
However, his lawyers have always been complaining that since January, the prosecution is carrying out unending investigations which have hindered their client’s trials.
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