Dar es Salaam. The State yesterday slapped unbailable money laundering charges on a rights activist and an information technology expert.
Mr Tito Magoti and Mr Theodory Giyan face three counts of leading a criminal gang, possession of a computer programme designed to commit an offence and money laundering.
The former is a Public Affairs’ officer with the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) while the latter is associated with a digital solutions company, iPF Softwares.
Yesterday’s arraignment of the duo came as a relief to their families, friends and workmates after four days of uncertainty and fear as no one knew for sure their whereabouts.
Their whereabouts even saw police bosses publicly contradicting each other.
The two were arraigned at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam.
According to the charge sheet, the two on diverse dates between February 1, 2019, and December 17 in Dar es Salaam and other parts of the country, allegedly jointly wilfully with other persons not in court organized a criminal racket by possessing a computer programme designed to commit a crime.
The sheet further stated that with the aid of the computer programme the two acquired a total of Sh17 million knowingly that it was proceeds of criminal gains. The offences that the two have been charged with are unbailable.
Although Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Lazaro Mambosasa had indicated that three others had been arrested alongside Mr Tito Magoti, only two were produced in court yesterday.
Lawyers from LHRC, who spoke to the accused at the court, said in a statement yesterday that the duo informed them that they were interrogated on their relationships with Change Tanzania founder Maria Sarungi-Tsehai, former Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president Fatma Karume and ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe. “They were shocked to be charged with leading a criminal gang, possession of a computer programme designed for the purpose of committing an offence and money laundering,” said the lawyers.
According to the duo’s testimonies shared to the LHRC’s lawyers, it was Mr Giyan who was used to fulfil the plot to arrest Mr Magoti as the two were communicating until the latter was arrested at Mwenge, near the Sam Nujoma and Bagamoyo roads junction.
Mr Magoti claimed that he was blindfolded after having been arrested only to be unfolded and find himself at Tazara Police Station.
According to him, he was then transferred to Mbweni Police Station from where he was yesterday brought to court. His colleague Giyan was being held at Kilwa Road Police Station.
“They are all unfounded, trumped-up charges aimed at silencing activists,” Ms Anna Henga, LHRC’s executive director reacted to the charges brought against the two to The Citizen yesterday. “They are unjust by every standard. It is a continuation to cook-up charges against people who express a different opinion. We have to fight this growing culture by every means because if not opposed, it will affect the lives of many people,” she added.