Katto acquitted on chopper deal

Jun 07, 2005

RALLY ace and businessman Emmanuel Katto is now a free man.

By Hillary Kiirya

RALLY ace and businessman Emmanuel Katto is now a free man.

Court yesterday declared him innocent of any corrupt dealing with Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh during the purchase of four junk military helicopters in which the government lost over US$8m (about sh14.5b).

Delivering the ruling that lasted about five minutes, Buganda Road Court chief magistrate Margaret Tibulya said, “I find no merit in the charges. The star witness (Saleh) was clear that what was negotiated was a commission which according to him was quite proper since he was not an officer of a public body at the time.

“Saleh was running a marketing company, Calebs International, which the accused approached to market his services for a commission. The state’s own evidence is that no felonious giving, providing or offering any gratification as an inducement ever took place. I, therefore, acquit the accused under section 127 of the MCA (Magistrates’ Court Act).

“There is no evidence of corruption in the circumstances where two businessmen agree to do business or to give each other a business opportunity as was the case.

“In the absence of evidence of any felonious giving, promising, or offering a gratification, there is nothing that the accused should be put to explain. I according acquit him of the offence,” said Tibulya in her six-page ruling.

Immediately after his acquittal, Katto went to his lawyer to thank him for the battle well fought.

Asked whether he expected the outcome of the case, Katto said, “Of course. I knew I was innocent and even looking at the evidence on record I knew I would be acquitted at this stage and not any further than this.”

Katto was accused of offering an US$800,000 (about sh1.4b) bribe to Saleh in order to secure the deal for the supply of the junk helicopters.

Three witnesses, Saleh, businessman Kwame Ruyondo and Lt. Col. Kyamulesire, were produced during the hearing.

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