GASABO - John Bosco Sanyu, The New Times’ (TNT) former Managing Director finally turned up in the Kacyiru court of lower instance Friday on a dozen counts of fraud and embezzlement.
Eugène Sakindi, the prosecutor, pointed out that Sanyu committed the offences between 2004 and 2005 while he was the TNT Managing Director.
“He was in charge of the newspaper’s daily operations and was also supposed to manage the newspapers’ assets but he started using them as personal property.” Pronounced Sakindi.
Sakindi said the accused spent millions of company’s money to live a lavish lifestyle that the paper made losses.
“He embezzled up to FRW 51,216,820 and as we have told court, this is clearly proven,” he said indicating a file load of incriminating evidence against Sanyu.
Sanyu is believed to have withdrawn money from TNT accounts using cheques and on various occasions, signed them for other people without the company board’s knowledge. When the board noticed this, it suspended him and instituted an audit.
“The audit showed cases of embezzlement by Sanyu,” said the prosecutor.
“It was discovered that he more often than not bought plane tickets for people to travel wherever they wanted yet they were not working for the company nor was their business approved by the TNT board.
One such ticket was in the names of one Agnes Mutoni who was travelling to London. Another, a return ticket from Kigali to London via Nairobi was for Jackie Gakire.
Asked to defend himself by the president of the court, Sanyu consistently insisted that he had not had time to read his ‘dossier’ and prepare his defense.
“There is nothing I can say to defend myself since I asked for the dossier several times and could not get it,” he told court, an allegation that plainly annoyed Claudine Nyiramikenke, the court president.
“What evidence shows that you came to court and I refused to give you the dossier?” snapped an angry Nyiramikenke.
“Who said it was in the president’s office and therefore you could not access it? It was your right to come and pick it anytime and even if your lawyer had come we would have given it to him. I don’t agree with that,” she said.
“You are lying to the court.”
Sanyu claimed he had done all that was required of him to get the file. The prosecutor urged the court not to be deterred by his wiles and requested for the trial to proceed.
“First of all your lawyer was suspended and it is rather surprising that he now writes to the court asking for a postponement,” pointed out the president.
Sanyu’s lawyer was given a two-month suspension in June by the Kigali Bar Association due to inappropriate behavior. The court decided to ignore his lawyer’s letter dated July 17 2008 regarding it as an attempt to intentionally delay the case.
The hearing was broken off mid-way for deliberations on whether it was necessary to postpone the case. On resumption shortly after, the president announced that there was no reason for postponing the trial.
“We have decided that Janvier Rwagitare’s letter of June 17 requesting for postponement of the case cannot be valued,” she said due to the fact that Rwagitare’s two-month suspension was not yet over among other things.
The prosecution pointed out that there were witnesses who testified that Sanyu, being their head, had on occasion ordered them to sign for money but they could not tell where it went.
Among other things, it was revealed that he took some two million francs every month meant for Umutara University but the money never reached the university.
“That money never reached but went to Sanyu’s bank account,’ said the prosecutor. “There is also money that he gave himself, two million francs in a period of six months, calling it perdiem.
“This would not have been a decision he could decide on his own without consulting the people who appointed him,” the prosecution pointed out adding that it had found all the evidence available to be incriminating enough.
“Given all the evidence, we request the court to sentence Sanyu, three years in prison for abuse of office and to order him to pay all court fees and those suing for damages to be compensated,” requested the prosecutor.
Emmanuel Rukangira, TNT’s lawyer presented further evidence of instances where the accused illegally awarded himself company money.
He followed this by reading out a letter by the accused in which the latter had apologized to the company board chairman seeking to have the matter settled out of court. A status hearing was set for August 16 in the afternoon.