Kabafunzaki co-accused opts for plea bargain

By Farooq Kasule

Herbert Kabafunzaki (pictured), Brian Mugabo and Bruce Lubowa are accused of soliciting a bribe from Aya Investment Company boss Mohammed Hamid.

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KAMPALA - In a twist of events, Brian Mugambo, the co-accused of embattled state minister for labour Herbert Kabafunzaki, has opted for plea bargain in the sh5m bribery case.

Kabafunzaki, Mugabo and Bruce Lubowa  are accused of soliciting a bribe from Aya Investment Company boss Mohammed Hamid to clear his name over alleged sexual harassment of his former female employee.

In a letter dated May 7, 2018 seen by New Vision, Mugabo apologises for soliciting a bribe from Hamid, but says he is ready to settle it under plea bargaining.

Plea bargaining is where an accused person pleads guilty to a charge in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

“I thought I would make quick money out of the complaint against Hamid, only to land me into problems.

"However, I have been advised by my lawyers that I have the option of having the case against me resolved through a plea bargain,” Mugabo states.

The letter is also copied to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Justice Mike Chibita and the Anti-Corruption Court, where the three are currently facing trial.

In the same letter, Mugabo says he had earlier pleaded guilty of the charge when he first appeared in court, but was forced to change the position when the state indicated he had requested the money on behalf of other people.

On April 11 last year, Mugabo admitted having hidden sh5m that he told court he knew had been accepted by Kabafunzaki as a bribe.

Prosecution alleges that Kabafunzaki, who is also the Rukiga County MP, and his co-accused solicited and received a sh5m bribe from Hamid to kill a sexual assault case against him (Hamid).

The sexual harassment case file has since been closed by Police for lack of sufficient evidence pining Hamid.

Hearing of the case has been on hold over the alleged illness of Lubowa.

Last week, Lubowa’s lawyer Jude Byamukama told court that Mengo Hospital had recommended Lubowa to be taken to Butabika Hospital for mental examination because he seems to be insane.

The group was arrested on April 8, 2017, two days after they had visited Pearl of Africa Hotel in Nakasero to investigate Hamid over allegations of sexual harassment and non-payment of his employees.

Also last week, the presiding Judge Margaret Tibulya refused to release Kabafunzaki’s passport. He was slated to travel to Mauritius with his fellow MPs for Parliament work.