The High Court has allowed an application by the Karamoja Affairs Minister, Mary Gorreti Kitutu to cross-examine government witnesses in a case, where she is challenging her trial for the diversion of iron sheets.
Kitutu is challenging her trial on grounds of torture and several human rights violations inflicted on her while in police custody for three days.
She is jointly charged with her brother Michael Naboya Kitutu and her Personal Assistant Joshua Abaho.
The prosecution alleges that between June 2022 and January 2023 at the office of the Prime Minister’s Stores, Namanve, Mukono District, Kitutu caused the loss of 9,000 pre-painted government Iron sheets of Gauge 28 meant for the Karamoja Community Empowerment Program by diverting them to her own benefit and third parties.
It is also alleged that while at the same place, in January 2023, Kitutu and Abaho diverted 5,500 iron sheets for unrelated purposes, which ended up in the hands of third parties yet he was charged with the duty of keeping them in safe custody.
According to the Prosecution, Kitutu’s brother Naboya received 100 pieces of iron sheets while in Namisindwa district, which were part of those that the Minister and Abaho had connived to divert.
On Tuesday, Kitutu through her lawyers Jude Byamukama, John Musiime, and Dr. Akampumuza asked the Anti-Corruption Court Judge, Jane Okuo Kajuga asked Court to allow them to cross-examine the witnesses who swore affidavits opposing her application opposing the trial for the real truth to come out.
Byamukama argued that the information in the affidavits contravened the accusations levied against them by Kitutu.
He explained that the purpose of the cross-examination is among others to test credibility, which is critical to the applicant’s objection to the trial.
Byamukama said her client complained that she was tortured and mistreated in various ways by the investigating agencies while the Attorney General’s witnesses claim that she was given VIP treatment while in detention.
However in response, in a rare occurrence, the Attorney General who had lined up a team of five State Attorneys including Johnson Natuhwera, Jackie Amusugut, Chrispus Nampwera, Jonathan Muwaganya, and David Bisamunyu asked the court to dismiss the application, arguing that it was intended to waste court’s time.
Led by Natuhwera, the state attorneys said the right to cross-examination can only be granted by the court, and therefore it is not absolute.
In her brief ruling following lengthy submissions, Kajuga allowed the application by Kitutu, saying that the Attorney General would not in any way be prejudiced when his witnesses are cross-examined.
Kajuga said the application has far-reaching consequences/implications that require an in-depth investigation and that the purpose of the examination is clear under the Evidence Act.
She promised to deliver a detailed ruling later and stopped the case for 30 minutes to resume with cross-examination.
Last month, the Court halted the trial of Kitutu pending the determination of the application alleging torture.