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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Uganda drops money laundering charges against human rights lawyers

Kampala-Ugandan prosecutors have dropped money laundering charges against human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo. The police arrested Opiyo, as well as three other lawyers and an opposition party official in December last year because they collected evidence about the killing of opposition supporters before the presidential election. Opiyo’s lawyers said that the withdrawal of the charges proved that due process was not followed and that the state persecuted human rights defenders.

Attorney David Mpanga said that it is clear that the case against Nicolas Opiyo is not valid.

Opiyo was arrested for accusing him of obtaining US$340,000 through ABSA Bank in the name of Chapter IV of the NGO he leads. He is fully aware that the above-mentioned funds are the proceeds of criminal activities.

Mpanga stated that the money laundering allegations will obviously not be confirmed in court.

“But sometimes these things are brought not to prove them, but because they can be brought. When you bring them, you find that you have done a lot of things during that time, which constitutes punishment. This is what we call it. Because of the abuse of the program,” Mpanga said.

The High Court has asked the state to provide evidence for Opiyo’s trial before September 15.

In a statement shared with the media and Opiyo’s lawyers on Monday afternoon, the state attorney general stated that the office has decided to stop the lawsuit against Opiyo.

The director’s public relations officer, Jacquelyn Okui, stated that the office believes it is wise to withdraw the matter so that the prosecutor can gather more evidence.

“When reviewing the case file, DPP noted that additional national and transnational evidence is needed [crimes] It cannot be guaranteed within the timetable provided to the office by the court,” O’Quay said.

The Uganda Bar Association welcomed the dismissal of the charges, saying that they had previously advocated doing so because the manner in which Opiyo was arrested was not in accordance with due process.

Pheona Wall, chairman of the Bar Association, said that the withdrawal has attracted the attention of many people and called on the DPP to avoid such cases in the future.

“We should encourage them to ensure that they do not use or abuse prosecution to persecute human rights defenders. However, fragile boxes should not be tenable,” Wall said.

In a statement issued through his organization, Opiyo insisted that the allegations against him were fabricated and frivolous.

The Chapter 4 statement also stated that the funds were a grant from a reputable and recurring donor of the organization, who legally supports Chapter 4’s work on the promotion and protection of human rights.


World Nation News Desk
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