By Simon Abaho
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Justice Jane Frances Abodo has dropped charges of money laundering against human rights lawyer, Nicholas Opiyo.
Last week, the Anti-Corruption High Court Judge Lawrence Gidudu gave DPP seven days to commit Opiyo for trial or have the case against him dismissed.
Opiyo, the head of Chapter Four Uganda, a civil rights organization, was arbitrarily arrested by plain-clothed men in December last year. He was not immediately informed of the reason for his arrest.
The prosecution had alleged that Opiyo on October 8, 2020, at ABSA Bank Garden City Branch, in Kampala district, acquired $340,000 (about Shs1.2 billion) through the bank account of Chapter Four Uganda, knowing that the said funds were “proceeds of crime.”
On Dec. 30, the Anti-Corruption Court granted bail to Opiyo. Justice Kajuga ordered Opiyo to pay Shs 15 million as bail.
With the trial not kicking off, Opiyo recently filed an application in the High court asking charges to be dismissed on grounds that it appeared police was not demonstrating progress in concluding investigations which in his view is unjust and unfair.
In a withdrawal notice dated September 10, 2021, Abodo informed the Chief Magistrate Anti-Corruption Court that she had decided to withdraw the case against Opiyo.
“This is to inform court that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided to discontinue proceedings against Opiyo Nicholas charged with Money Laundering C/S 3(c) 116 and 131 (1) a, of the Anti-Money Laundering act as amended,” Abodo said without elaborating the reason for dropping the charges.
The presiding magistrate, Moses Nabende, hence dismissed the money laundering charges against Opiyo and freed him.
“It’s hereby ordered that proceedings against the accused person charged with money laundering are discontinued by virtue of the withdrawal from serial no. 1547 dated September 10. The accused person (Opiyo) is discharged accordingly,” ruled Nabende.