Forged Papers For Uganda President In UK Case?

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Africa News Update

In a bombshell revelation, U.K. Forensic experts are examining whether lawyers for Uganda’s President Yoweri K. Museveni submitted forged papers to a London court which vacated a $31 million judgment against the president last week, The Black Star News has learned.

The case was subsequently ordered to trial and a date has yet to be determined. Now the whole matter has been thrown in the air with the disclosure that Museveni’s lawyers may have filed forged documents in seeking the judgment be set-aside.

The case stems from a December, 2006 default judgment awarded to Uganda born British journalist Dr. Jesse Mashate who had filed a lawsuit against Museveni in the U.K. Commercial High Court earlier. Mashate alleged wrongful expropriation of his then Uganda-based publishing business The Weekend Digest in 1986 shortly after Museveni seized power.

The paper is said to have published critical articles on Museveni’s then National Resistance Army which led his insurgency.

U.K. Commercial High Court issued a summons to President Museveni on November 17, 2006; by December 4, there was no response, and the Court awarded on December 11, 2006, Dr. Mashate the judgment.

Last week, lawyers representing Museveni successfully petitioned the court to throw out the default judgment and allow the Ugandan president to defend the case at trial. The Black Star News has learned that now the authenticity of some documents, including one bearing the signature of Joan Rwabyomere, Uganda’s High Commissioner to the U.K.—her post is equivalent to that of an ambassador— are being questioned.

One of the arguments lawyers for president Museveni has used in seeking judgment be vacated was that he had not been served with court papers in a timely manner.

To support this contention, the president’s defense team submitted a “legal documents delivery receipt,” listed as item “10” signed by Rwabyomere, and dated “21st Feb 2007,” which is two months after the default judgment, implying that service arrived way too late.

But the handwritten “Feb” seems to have been superimposed on top of “Dec” and the “7” seems to have been superimposed on top of “6” to change the year to 2007 from 2006.

There is an even bigger problem for Museveni’s team; item “9” is what appears to be a copy of the exact “legal documents delivery receipt,” also signed by Rwabyomere, and dated “21st Dec 2006.”

It appears that if someone had been trying to commit a fraudulent act, he or she forgot to remove the original delivery receipt from the documents submitted in Museveni’s defense; the original and the possible forgery were both submitted to the U.K. court.

The Black Star News attempted to speak with High Commissioner Rwabyomere, but the reporter was kept on hold for half an hour and didn’t get a response.

Contacted by the reporter, one of Museveni’s U.K.-based lawyers, Patrick Asiimwe, said: “Can you call me later. I can’t comment now because I don’t want to be misquoted.”

Said Alex Oringa, a lawyer for the plaintiff, Mashate, “I don’t want to pre-empt or to talk much about the case which is before the court. Get back to the person who availed you those documents and ask him.” Mashate himself declined to comment.

Miwambo reports for The Black Star News from London

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