The Nyarugenge Primary Court yesterday acquitted the former CEO of the Water and Sanitation Corporation (WASAC), James Sano, and ordered for his immediate release.
Speaking to Saturday Times, his lawyer, Christophe Niyomugabo, said he received the ruling through the Integrated Electronic Case Management System (IECMS), a digital way of handling cases, because he wasn't in court.
“Yes. My client was acquitted by the Nyarugenge primary court. The court ruled that evidence presented by prosecution was insufficient to pin Sano on the crime of misuse of public property,” Niyomugabo said.
He added that justice was served as court, in passing the judgment, considered Article 165 of the code of criminal procedure whereby any sort of doubt on evidence produced favours the accused.
“The benefit of doubt shall be given in favour of the accused. If the proceedings conducted as completely as possible do not enable judges to find reliable evidence proving beyond reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offence, the judges shall order his/her acquittal,” reads the article.
Sano was early September arrested by Police as part of investigations into illegalities related to awarding of public tenders and mismanagement of public resources.
Prosecution also accused Sano on unnecessary spending on rent for the current headquarters of the utility in Remera along Airport Road, saying the decision was unjustified since the water utility had moved from a facility it owned into rental.
The new premises is rented at Rwf26 million per month. When they occupied the new offices late last year, WASAC paid Rwf945.5 million for a three-year rental, according to prosecution.
In defence earlier, Sano had insisted that all decisions were made by the company’s board of directors, adding that he never took any unilateral decision.
He also justified the move to the new premises, saying the old premises in downtown Kigali was smaller and could not accommodate all staff.
Former managing director of Energy Development Corporation Ltd (EDCL) Emmanuel Kamanzi, who is on remand and had previously appeared alongside Sano though on separate charges, did not appear in court Friday.
Kamanzi is also accused of misusing public funds, particularly with regard to authorising the purchase of electric poles and transformers, which turned out to be defective.