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UK Court Orders President Museveni To Pay Millions Of Pounds To A Former Publisher

Source: Norman S. Miwambo

A U.K. Court has ordered Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni to pay £49,843,000 to a former newspaper publisher millions of pounds for a newspaper seized in Uganda in 1986, this newspaper has learned.

Uganda-born British national, Dr. Jesse Mashate, is seeking to enforce a 6,850,000 pounds judgement, which he says with interest dating back to 1986, and costs, brings the total to 49,843,000 pounds. Dr. Mashate had originally won a summary judgment after filing his claim in a U.K. court; the judgment was later set aside when Museveni's counsel argued that he had never been served. Dr. Mashate had argued that the papers had been served with Uganda's High Commission in the U.K.

This time, Chris Ward, a consular official at the United Kingdom's High Commission --the equivalence of an embassy-- in Uganda served Dr. Mashate's claims against the Ugandan president with John Nuwamanya, deputy chief of protocol at the East African country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, records show. The U.K. court granted Dr. Mashate permission to serve Museveni in Uganda on October 2, 2009, records show. On March 4, 2010, Lucy Newman, an official of H.M.'s Court Service, foreign process section wrote to Dr. Mashate, confirming, "Please find enclosed herewith evidence of service of documents in the above matter received from the authorities of Uganda."

The long on-going case, when the matter of the case unnerved in the air with the exposed that Museveni's lawyers forged documents to seek the judgement to be set aside. Dr Mashate had alleged wrongful expropriation of his then Uganda-based publishing business The Weekend Digest in 1986 shortly after Museveni seized power.

Then the UK High Court Commercial Division Queen Bench issued a summons to President Museveni in November 2006; by December, there was no response, and the court awarded Dr Mashate the judgement.

Dr. Mashate in court papers says in November 1997 he and Museveni "reached an agreement orally" in London for settlement amount of 6,850,000 pounds. The court allowed Dr. Jesse Mashate, who had published The Weekend Digest in Uganda, to compute interest at 8% annually; bringing the total owed him to 39,568,000 pounds, when assessed from 1986, the year the newspaper was seized. The court also allowed the plaintiff to recover his costs adding on another 3,425,000 pounds, court records show. Those bring a total of £49,843,000 to be paid by the defendant Yoeri Kaguta Museveni who is the current president of Uganda.

President Museveni did not respond to the papers served through the Foreign Ministry, and on May 5, 2010, the U.K.'s High Court of Justice, Queens Bench Division, ordered him to pay Dr. Mashate's claim of 6,850,000 plus interest and cost, records show. In terms of the judgement, the court also granted Dr. Mashate, records show "permission to serve the defendant out of jurisdiction under the State Immunity Act of 1978, at State House, Nakasero, P.O. Box 24594, Kampala, Uganda or elsewhere in Uganda."

The case was handled by Master Leslie and is captioned HQ07X01288 Dr. Jesse Mashate and Gen. Yoweri Museveni Kaguta.

“The fact that you have a case number means that a case has been issued,” a case preparation office

“The Mashate's case closed really long time ago. That matter as far as Uganda is concern was closed,” said the Uganda High Commissioner Joan Rwabyomere when asked for a comment about the case. But the

Presidential Press Secretary to Museveni; Joseph Tamale Mirundi confirmed knowing about the case saying that: “Mashate's case has been there for so long, but do they [UK courts] have the jurisdiction over Uganda?”

“What is important, what is the jurisdiction of that court,” asked Mr Tamale, adding that; “I want to find out. We are no longer a colony of Britain.” Mr Tamale, however, noted that:That is the attorney general to interpret not me. But for me what I notice does that court has jurisdiction over Uganda.”

“The other day I heard an excited judge in France saying that he had issued summons against President Kagame. But where did he end?” said Mr Tamale in reference to the French anti-terrorist Judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière who accused Rwanda President Paul Kagame for mastermind the shooting down the Mystere Falcon 50, a jet then carried Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira that turned a catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.

Mr Mirundi further reasoned that: “A court must have the jurisdictions over a country. Two; is he [Mashate] suing the President as an individual or as a president of Uganda? Three; what is its enforcement capability?”

“So, that is me as a knowledgeable person, but a person who is qualified to answer your question is the attorney general,” Tamale added.

“For me, is that those European judges, they are excited, they are suffering from colonial mentality, the colonial hunger-over. What if they don't do it, so, there are many questions to ask. Let me get you the attorney general,” he added before handing-up the phone. Efforts to get the attorney general Khiddu Makubuya were futile as he could not pick his phone.