Rugemalira to argue his case as hearing prayer is granted

Friday February 28 2020

Businessmen James Rugemalira (Right) and

Businessmen James Rugemalira (Right) and Harbinder Sethi Singh, in turban, leave the Kisutu Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday after they appeared for hearing of their case. PHOTO| THE CITIZEN CORRESPONDENT 

By Hadija Jumanne @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. The Kisutu Resident’s Magistrate Court has set March 12 as the date for hearing a petition by businessman James Rugemalira who is asking to be acquitted from criminal charges.

Rugemalira is charged alongside chairman for Independent Power Tanzania Ltd (IPTL), Harbinder Sethi and Lawyer Joseph Makandenge with conspiracy, leading organised crime, forgery, money laundering and occasioning loss to the government.

When the case came up for mention yesterday, Mr Rugemalira, who is director for VIP Engineering, submitted that he deserves to be acquitted.

This was after state attorney Wankyo Simon, told the Principal Resident Magistrate, Huruma Shaidi that investigations into the case had not completed.

But defence lawyer, John Chuma told the court that his client has submitted before the court a detailed defence that the prosecution side has not responded to.

Magistrate Shaidi said the court was aware of Mr Rugemalira’s defence submitted before it and that the prosecution side will respond in writing on March 12.

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Earlier, Mr Rugemalira submitted that he has written a letter to Commissioner General with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), a copy of which was availed to a representative with the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), detailing how Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong Limited deserved to be joined in the Sh350 billion economic trial facing him. He alleged that Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong Limited evaded paying $678.277 million (about Sh1.5 trillion) as stamp duty to TRA. He told Principal Resident Magistrate, Huruma Shaidi that on January 24, 2020, he talked with the PCCB representative who visited him in prison and gave him a copy of the letter in question, explaining how the bank was allegedly evaded tax.

Mr Rugemalira told the court that his letter was addressed to a total of six government institutions, including Tanzania Intelligence and Security Services (Tiss), demanding that the Director for Public Prosecution (DPP) should submit a notice for his release and threatening that is that does not happen, then he will ask the court to remove him from the case.

The prosecution side also asked the court whether Mr Rugemalira was being defended by lawyers or not.

But in response, Mr Rugemalira said:

“I have carefully listened to a submission by the prosecution side. I wanted to have even 30 lawyers in total but I cannot understand why Wankyo can see a problem in my decision to defend myself,” he said.

Magistrate Shaidi then ruled that the defence side should submit its defence in writing on March 12, 2020. The prosecution side told the court that it will have submitted its arguments before March 12, 2020.