By Bernard James 9 July 2009 The Citizen Dar es Salaam tycoon Jeetu Patel is suing the Government and media mogul Reginald Mengi in a bid to have corruption charges against him and three others dropped. Mr Patel and three fellow city businessmen accused in a Sh133 billion fraud case, are arguing that their constitutional right, which stipulates that one is innocent until proven guilty, has been violated. In a suit filed in the High Court on June 4, the businessmen want the criminal charges discontinued because they fear that they will not be given a fair hearing. They argue in their suit that they have already been condemned without being heard through the intense media coverage of the allegations against them, citing a press conference addressed by Mr Mengi, the executive chairman of IPP Media. The four state that the Government filed the charges after they had been portrayed in the media as being corrupt and that the public perception of them was that of guilty people just waiting to be jailed. The businessmen, who have been charged with illegally obtaining over Sh22 billion in the Sh133 billion External Payment Arrears (EPA) account scandal of the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), are seeking a constitutional interpretation to declare as null and void the charges against them. Jeetu, whose real name is Mr Jayantkumar Chandubai Patel, has Attorney-General Johnson Mwanyika, the Director of Public Prosecutions Eliezer Feleshi and Mr Mengi as the respondents the constitutional case. Mr Patel, Mr Devendra Vinodbhai Patel, Mr Amit Nandy and Mr Ketan Chohan first appeared in court last November, charged with nine counts of conspiracy, fraud and theft of Sh22 billion from BoT. They denied the charges. The petition revolves around a press conference convened by Mr Mengi in April, during which he named five people, including Mr Patel as "mafisadi papa" (corruption sharks) and called on the Government to take tough action against them. The petitioners say the words, which were picked up and broadcast by the media condemned them. They claim that the reports created a public perception of guilt and influenced their charging in court. "Our protestation to innocence has been compromised," they argue in court documents filed through Marando, Mnyele & Company Advocates, the Professional Centres Advocates and Trustmark Attorneys, all of Dar es Salaam. The three have sought a declaration that the remarks made by Mr Mengi and others violated their constitutional rights and has resulted in a mistrial of the criminal cases facing them. " that such condemnation has influence the public, including the numerous trial magistrates who constitute the magisterial panels to try their cases. In the premises no fair trial can be had in the cases in which we stand arraigned, hence a mistrial," the noted. The petitioners accuse the DPP of failing to terminate the criminal proceedings against them "despite having power and discretion to do so". The basis of the petitioners' case is Article 13 (4) (5) and 6 (b) of the Constitution, which lays accent on equality before the law. Article 13 (6) (b) states that no person charged with a criminal offence shall be treated as guilty of the offence until proved guilty of that offence. The businessmen has also sought a declaration that the DPP had a duty to terminate the criminal proceedings against them soon after it emerged that "a mistrial had been occasioned by the impugned publications". They cite newspapers and TV stations which published reports before and after their arraignment and which they claim condemned them unheard. They argue that the publications portrayed them as thieves, looters, fraudsters and notoriously corrupt people. "Our pictures and names invariably appeared in newspapers that carried the publications, hence a systematic prelude to our arraignment as"guilty men". It is contention that publications created a picture that "we were already guilty people who were being sent to court only to be punished, not for the truth to be sought. They further argue that Mr Mengi's press conference televised on his ITV channel and later reported on and commented on by various newspapers "buttressed and compounded our image of guilty men before the general public". Should the subordinate court finally find them not guilty, "the already prejudiced general public will lose faith in court as it will be deemed to have been corrupted by us". The petition adds: "The action of the Judiciary forming panels of three magistrates to hear our cases is evidence of the judgment of the public that we are likely to corrupt individual magistrates." At the April press conference, Mr Mengi read out the names of five businessmen he declared to be "corruption sharks." The Government was forced to intervene after Igunga MP Rostam Aziz, who had been named by Mr Mengi, came out to defend himself and accused the media owner of being corrupt himself. The minister of State for Good Governance in the President's office, Ms Sophia Simba, criticised Mr Mengi, saying he had condemned the businessmen unheard, owing to what she perceived were personal interests.