The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court is set to deliver its judgment on the 2.5bn/- theft case facing former Tanzania’s envoy to Italy, Prof Ricky Mahalu, and former counsellor with the same embassy, Grace Martin, on July 11,this year.
Presiding principal resident magistrate Ilvin Mgeta told the court that both the prosecution and defence sides had already got proceedings of the case by soft copy.
The prosecution is led by State attorney Vincent Haule and assisted by Ponsiano Lukosi while the defence comprises advocates Mabere Marando, Alex Mgongolwa and Beatus Malima.
Before the verdict date was set, both sides were required to deliver last submissions on June 11 this year.
Magistrate Mgeta adjourned the case to June 14, this year, when it comes up for mention and July 11 for judgment. Early last weak the defence side closed its testimony after their last witness, Martin, testified.
On May 7, this year history was made after retired President Benjamin Mkapa appeared in court in Dar es Salaam as a defence witness.
The unprecedented appearance and the testimony adduced by the former president is widely viewed as an interesting twist to the high-profile case.
Led by defence counsel Alex Mgongolwa, Mkapa told magistrate Mgeta that the chancery's purchase had his government’s blessing.
“The government blessed the purchase of the building …I was informed about that and I did not oppose it,” he said, adding that he was notified that payment would be made by way of deposits in two accounts.
Counsel Mgongolwa then asked the witness how come the first prosecution witness, former Chief Secretary Martin Lumbanga, denied knowing about the purchase.
“I am surprised that he (Lumbanga) said so. What I know is that the purchase was approved,” said Mkapa.
Mgongolwa went on to ask Mkapa to tell the court why it so happened that he knew about the transaction but the Chief Secretary didn’t. Responding, Mkapa said that might be possible “but it is very quite inconceivable”.
He explained that, as much as he knew, two ministries – Works and Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development – were involved in the evaluation of the said building.
Mahalu and Grace are charged with conspiring to steal from the government of Tanzania on diverse dates and places within Italy, Tanzania and other places in the world.
On the second count, it is alleged that on September 23, 2002 at Tanzania's embassy in Italy, being persons in the service of the Tanzanian government, knowingly and with intent to deceive, the two used payment voucher number D2/9 dated 23.9.2002 containing false particulars to purchase the Tanzanian embassy building in Rome at euro 3,098,741.58.
On the third count, it is alleged that the accused on October 1, 2002 at the Tanzanian embassy in Italy, used a contract dated 1.9.2002 to show that the purchase price was euro 3,098,741.58 and that the vendor of the building had received the money.
On the fourth and fifth counts, it is alleged that on the same date and place, the accused stole euros 2,065,827.60, causing the government to suffer a pecuniary loss.