Kampala – Ugandan prosecutor has dropped money laundering charges against human rights lawyer Nicolas Opio. Police arrested Opio in December, along with three other lawyers and an opposition official, as they gathered evidence of the killing of opposition supporters before the presidential election. OPO’s lawyer says the dropped charges prove that due process was not followed, and the state tortured human rights defenders.
Lawyer David Empanga said it was clear there was no plausible case against Nicholas Opio.
Opio was arrested on the charge that he had acquired knowledge0,000 dollars through ABSA Bank, a private company called Chapter Four, with full knowledge that these funds were meant for criminal activity.
Empanga said it was clear that the money laundering allegations would not be proven in court.
“But sometimes these things are not brought to prove them, because they can be brought. And when they are brought, you see that a lot is done during that time, which constitutes punishment. And that’s why we call it an abuse of process, ”said Empanga.
The High Court gave the state until September 15 to present its evidence for the OPO trial to begin.
In a statement shared with the media and Opio’s lawyers on Monday afternoon, the state director of public prosecution said the office had decided to close the case against Opio.
Jacqueline Okui, the director’s public relations officer, said the office thought it prudent to withdraw the case so prosecutors could gather more evidence.
“After reviewing the case file, the DPP noted the need for additional evidence on national and international issues [crimes] Which could not be secured within the time limit given by the court, ”Okui said.
The Uganda Law Society welcomed the withdrawal of the allegations, saying it had previously advocated that the way the OPO was arrested did not follow due process.
Fena Wall, president of the Law Society, said the withdrawal raised eyebrows and called on the DPP to avoid such cases in the future.
We should encourage human rights defenders to ensure that justice is not abused or abused. However, petty cases should not stand, ”Wall said.
In a statement through his organization, the OPO maintained that the allegations brought against him were trivial and trivial.
The Chapter Four statement further states that the funds in question were grants from a reputable, recurring donor to the organization, who legally supports the work of the Chapter on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.