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Lawyers Kasango, Matovu trade insults in courtroom

Bob Kasango in court

Two Kampala lawyers John Matovu and Bob Kasango traded barbs during a trial in the Anti-Corruption court on Wednesday. Matovu set the tone for confrontation when he was asked by prosecution to identify Kasango in court.

“Of course I can identify him, he is seated at the back, well dressed in a tie as usual,” the lawyer said with a sarcastic smile.

“By the way, he doesn’t look like a thief when you first see him. But Kasango, you stole my money,” Matovu added.

Matovu was the first prosecution witness in a case in which Kasango is accused of conspiring to forge a judicial document in order to steal pension cash amounting to Shs 15.4bn.

Kasango’s co-accused include the three jailed former ministry of public service officials; Jimmy Lwamafa, Christopher Obey and Stephen Kiwanuka Kunsa. Matovu said he first met Kasango in August 2011 after getting a court order directing government to pay 6,339 pensioners. Matovu wanted Kasango to help him get Shs 4.6bn in legal fees having successfully represented the pensioners.

“I tried to get the money but I wasn’t succeeding because I was perceived to be FDC or opposition,” Matovu said, adding, “then within the legal circles I was advised to get Kasango because he was well-connected and he could get us the money within a matter of time; since I wanted to get rid of poverty, I agreed,” Matovu said.

In November 2011, Matovu said, Kasango gave him Shs 340m in cash.

“I told him, my friend I was expecting billions but you’re giving me millions,” Matovu said. “But he told me to be patient and since I was dying of poverty, I accepted the millions,” he added.

In February 2012, Matovu said he was “over the moon” when Kasango gave him another Shs 700m.

“He made several other payments to me, including Shs 25m, which he gave to me after giving me a lecture on how money was stolen by the Obeys [Christopher],” Matovu narrated.

“He also gave me Shs 16m when my mother was hospitalized at Nakasero [hospital]. I think in total he gave me only 1.3bn in installments,” Matovu said.

Matovu, a former president of Uganda Law Society (ULS), said that as part of the payments, Kasango had also given him a Land Cruiser V8, which turned out not to be his.

“I was in town cruising and some people came and asked me, who gave you this car, and I was like it’s Kasango,” he said.

“Then they replied, that guy [Kasango] has never paid for this car, and they took it, and I was really embarrassed,” Matovu told court.

He added that he learned about Kasango’s dubious ways from a report in the local media, having read a report in The New Vision in which the auditor general was accusing a law firm (Hall and Partners advocates, owned by Kasango) of having received Shs 17bn meant for pensioners.

“I did my underground investigations from within Kasango’s office and I was shocked to find that instead of Kasango asking for my legal fees worth Shs 4.5bn, he had inflated the figure to Shs 17bn and that’s the money the auditor general was querying,” Matovu said.

Matovu added that from his investigations, he found that Kasango had forged a certificate of taxation dated June 20, 2012 purporting it to have been issued by Justice John Eudes Keitirima, who was then deputy registrar of the Civil division of the High court.

Matovu said he also found that Kasango had forged a certificate of order against the government, dated June 22, 2012 and purportedly issued by Justice Keitirima, directing the attorney general to make a further payment of Shs 3.9bn as taxed costs on the pensioners.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

Though Kasango has a lawyer, he asked the trial judge Margaret Tibulya to personally cross-examine Matovu. During cross examination, Kasango first asked Matovu to tell court the exact amount of money he allegedly swindled from him.

“Kasango, you know how much money you stole from me, don’t pretend. I have an agreement in which I was giving you instructions. I have a judgement against you from the Commercial court, and you have been on the run because bailiffs are after you. But I will get you,” Matovu responded.

A little rattled by Matovu’s bluntness, Kasango said “your allegations don’t make sense.”

Matovu retorted, “Many things that you have done don’t make sense to me. Kasango, you stole my money and I’m looking for you.”

Then Kasango asked Matovu if at all the signature on the contested documents is that of Justice Keitirima.

“It looks like that of Keitirima but since I’m not a handwriting expert, I cannot confirm that it is his, yet I know that a person like you can forge things,” Matovu replied.
Kasango then said it is possible the signature genuinely belongs to Justice Keitirima.

“You want me to accuse a judge of stealing? I’m still a practising advocate, you want my cases to be thrown out; leave me alone,” Matovu said, adding, “You have already stolen my money hence causing me poverty, now you want to end my legal career.”

Things turned worse when Kasango appeared to insinuate that Matovu was behind the forgeries.

“Kasango, don’t ask me stupid questions,” the veteran lawyer said.
“I have a lot of pain after you stole my money, and please don’t provoke me any further.”

At this point, Kasango became emotional.

“Matovu, you and Keitirima have landed me into trouble and I’m really hurt…I know a lot of things about this case that I won’t say and you must be really very careful.”

dkiyonga@observer.ug

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