The Court of Appeal has ordered government to pay over Shs100b to about 1000 former spies under Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in terminal benefits.
The ruling by Justice Remmy Kasule upheld the 2005 judgment of the High Court that awarded the same former spies Shs72b, which the government’s Attorney General and leaders of the complainants later negotiated downwards to Shs36b.
The money attracted interest of 10 per cent per annum as ruled by Justice Okum Wengi of the High Court, about 12 years ago.
“The remedies to be pursued must be those that ensure that the judgment of the court is respected and complied within its entirety by all parties to the suit. The judgment debtor (Attorney General) has to fulfil what the judgment orders him to do. The judgment creditors (former spies) must get in full what the judgment has awarded to them. The remedies must be to ensure that a court of law does not act in vain whatever the circumstances,” Justice Kasule ruled in his judgment delivered on June 12.
Due to the accruing interest, the amount the government owes the former intelligence operatives has accumulated to more than Shs100b to-date since the High Court judgment was passed.
About 1,000 intelligence officers sued government for terminating their services and failing to pay them their terminal benefits.
They said their employment was terminated contrary to the law and in denial of their terminal and severance packages and as such they had suffered loss and damage.
They sought court orders for terminal benefits, pension, gratuity, arrears of unpaid allowances, money in lieu of notice of termination, medical and transport allowances as well as general damages.
On May 20, 2005, the then trial judge of the High Court Wengi ruled in favour of the former spies and granted them all their prayers in the suit.
The court also awarded each of them Shs500,000 as general damages.
The other issue that Justice Kasule determined in his ruling was the prayer by the ex-spies to substitute three of their leaders whom they accused of colluding with the AG to vary the original award from Shs72b to Shs36b without the consent of others.
However, in his ruling, Justice Kasule referred them back to the High Court which originally handled the case to sort out this issue if they suspect the terms and amount of their compensation were altered to their disadvantage.
Counsel Roberts Kagoro and Fred Muwema from Muwema & Company Advocates, who represented the former spies in court, welcomed the ruling of Court of Appeal.
“This ruling has far reaching implications in that judgments of the court now can’t be varied by the AG just like that,” Mr Kagoro said by telephone yesterday.
When Daily Monitor contacted Mr Denis Bireje, the director civil litigation in the Justice ministry, about the ruling, he said he had not yet received it and could therefore not ably comment on it.