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Tanzanian court orders businessman Don Bosco to pay Sh13.7m fine

Tuesday September 18 2018

Don Bosco Gichana in court

Don Bosco Gichana (left) in a Tanzanian court during a past hearing. He was sentenced on September 18, 2018, after pleading guilty. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

RUTH MBULA
By RUTH MBULA
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Joy and relief greeted the family, friends and relatives of flamboyant businessman and politician Don Bosco Gichana after the High Court in Arusha, Tanzania, fined him Sh13.7 million.

The controversial politician, who in 2007 gifted opposition leader Raila Odinga with a Hummer SUV, has been in custody since 2013.

PLEADED GUILTY

Last week Thursday, Gichana pleaded guilty before the Tanzanian court and was on Tuesday sentenced to a five-year jail term, which he has already served, and a fine of Tsh300 million (about Sh13.7 million).

He has been on trial for conspiracy and money laundering alongside four others including his lawyer Median Mwale.

The showy and youthful Gichana was first arrested on March 29, 2013, when he went to Tanzania to visit Mr Mwale who had been in detention since August 2011 over various charges, among them money laundering.

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He was arrested at the Namanga border point on his way back to Kenya after visiting Mr Mwale at Arusha Central Prison.

Gichana will however be free once he pays the fine within one month.

His family is trying to raise the money to secure his freedom.

CHARGES

“We are very happy. This is good news to us. All we have to do is raise the money, once done, he will be a free man. We will try to do this soonest possible,” said his cousin Dunstan Gichana who spoke to the Nation by phone from Tanzania.

Last Thursday, after Gichana pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy and money laundering, Judge Isah Maige set the judgement for Tuesday.

He was accused of committing the offences between 2008 and 2010 when he filed false tax returns electronically to the US State Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service using different names including Dale Houston, Herbert Breneman and Syron Hess.

The prosecution led by principal state attorneys Oshwald Tibabyekomya and Hashima Ngole had last week read out the charges to Gichana who pleaded guilty to all the counts.

He also admitted the four exhibits presented by the prosecution, Tanzanian media reported.

RELIEF

The prosecution argued that in the false tax return, Gichana indicated addresses of his co-conspirators who at the material time were living in the US.

In 2013, the flashy politician unsuccessfully vied for the Kitutu Chache parliamentary seat and lost it to Mr Richard Onyonka who is now serving his third term.

Kitutu Chache South MP Richard Onyonka said the release of Gichana was long overdue.

“Like other leaders from Kisii, I feel happy at the news of his release, he is our son who we welcome back home with both hands," said Mr Onyonka.

He urged the government to follow up on similar cases where Kenyans are languishing in foreign jails.

Another politician, Mr Andrew Maube, said justice should prevail for all and that the release of Gichana was a relief for all.

“As Kisii leaders, we are delighted that our brother Bosco will be coming back home. This is indeed great news, “ he said.