- Published: 01 March 2016
Joe Ssemugooma, the former AG Director Finance and Administration with the Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) has expressed his willingness to plead guilty to the corruption charges and also refund the tax payers money that he allegedly took in connection to the famous Mukono-Katosi road scam.
This development happened mid morning when the hearing of the shillings 24 billion case that involves minister Without Portfolio Eng. Abraham James Byandala and five others, was scheduled to be heard this morning by the IGG representative Sarah Birungi.
Birungi went on to inform the Anti Corruption Court presided over by Justice Lawrence Gidudu that the IGG had received a proposal from one of the suspects (Ssemugooma) expressing his willingness to compensate the government under the new justice system called plea bargain in exchange of having his charges dropped.
Plea bargaining is a negotiated agreement between the prosecution and an accused person who is represented by a lawyer.
The accused person then appears before a judge to plead guilty to the charges against him/her in exchange for a lesser sentence without going through a lengthy full trial.
Sources at the IGG that preferred to remain anonymous said in the proposal, Ssemugooma is willing to refund shillings 30 billion to the government coffers.
But according to the charge sheet, the amount of loss that Ssemugooma is alleged to have caused alongside with Eng Berunado Kimeze, former Ag. Executive director, UNRA is worth shillings 24 billion.
After the pleading from the IGG representative, justice Gidudu allowed the parties up to March 23 to finalise their plea bargain deal and report to court.
According to the charge sheet, Ssemugooma faces three charges of causing financial loss of over Shs24bn, abuse of office and corruption.
Prosecution alleges that Ssemugooma and Eng Berunado approved payment of over shillings 24 billion to construction company Eutaw, well aware of its shortcomings contained in the preliminary due diligence report, which omissions caused government a financial loss of over shillings 24 billion.
The co-suspects in this case include; businessman Apollo Senkeeto alias Mark Kalyesubula, Isaac Mugote, former banker with Housing Finance Bank and Marvin Baryaruha, the former legal counsel for UNRA.
Court also extended the bail of all the suspects till March 23 when the trial is expected to commence.