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Now court rejects Mkapa statement

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by nngu007, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

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    Jun 2, 2011
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    By In2EastAfrica - Wed Jun 01, 2:17 pm

    [​IMG]Retired President Benjamin William Mkapa

    The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday rejected retired President Benjamin Mkapa’s sworn affidavit in defence of Prof Costa Mahalu, who is on trial for fraud. Instead, Principal Resident Magistrate Ilvin Mugeta said a defence witness should produce the document when testifying.Mr Mugeta turned down the defence’s request that the court accepts the affidavit as part of its evidence.“This is not the proper time to discuss the affidavit. The document should be produced during testimony by a defence witness,” he said.
    Defence counsel led by Mr Mabere Marando had earlier asked the court to accept the affidavit as an exhibit that will be used when Prof Mahalu launches his defence, a request the prosecution did not object to.
    But Mr Mugeta said the defence must first provide a list of its witnesses and make it clear whether they will testify under oath or by affirmation.

    Prof Mahalu, a former ambassador to Italy, was arraigned in January 2006 along with a former chancellor at the embassy, Ms Grace Martin, on charges of conspiracy to steal Sh2.5 billion from the government. The two, who have denied the charges, are accused of using two separate contracts in the purchase of an embassy building in Rome.
    The court ruled they had a case to answer in April 2009 following the testimonies of seven prosecution witnesses and production of nine exhibits.Mr Mkapa last month made a sworn affidavit in defence of Prof Mahalu, who was an ambassador during his presidential tenure.
    According to the affidavit, the government approved both the purchase and price of the building. Mr Mkapa says the government’s position was made clear in Parliament in August 2004.“This process, which involved the signing of two agreements (one formal and one commercial), which was necessitated by the prevailing customs and practice in Italy, was done with the full knowledge and approval of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania,” Mr Mkapa says.
    The retired President, who inaugurated the building in February 2003, adds: “The practice of two agreements has been done before by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania where it was deemed to be in the national interest”.Mr Mkapa describes Prof Mahalu as a person who honestly served the nation.
    “For the entire period I have worked with the ambassador in his various capacities in government service, I have known him as a person with a strong character, who is sincere, honest, obedient and a hard worker.
    “Those qualities led to his being awarded one of the highest national honours by the President of Italy on the Italian National Commemoration Day, long after he had left the country.”

    Mr Mkapa, who was President from 1995 to 2005, insists that the purchase of the building was in accordance with the government’s policy of acquiring permanent offices and residences for Tanzania’s missions abroad to minimise costs, adding that the purchase of a chancery building in Rome was a matter of national interest.
    “Through the process of the government’s machinery, I was made aware of the fact that the valuation reports for the building was established by the ministry of Works at $3million and ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development at 5.5million euros.”
    According to the former President, the state machinery also made him aware of the fact the building was purchased at $3 million, and approved the whole process and procedures pertaining to the purchase of the building located on Vialle Cortina d’Ampezzo 185 in Rome.
    He says he was also made aware of the fact that Prof Mahalu was given full authority to oversee and execute the process which led to the purchase of the chancery.
    It is alleged that the accused on October 1, 2002 used a sales contract dated September 1, 2002, claiming that the purchase price was for the abovementioned sum, and that the vendor of the building had received the money.
    The prosecution further alleges that on the same date and place the accused stole 2,065,827.60 euros. The trial was adjourned until July 8 after the defence asked to be provided with certified copies of the proceedings.
    By Rosina John, The Citizen
     
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