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14 judges to preside over Tanzania's new anti-corruption court

14 judges to preside over Tanzania's new anti-corruption court

Tanzania

Tanzania has introduced a special high court to fast-track economic and corruption cases which will be presided over by 14 judges appointed by the Chief Justice.

Scheduled to begin operations this month, the court to be situated in the capital Dar es Salaam was instituted after the government amended its founding 1984 legislation awaiting presidential approval.

The Chief Justice of Tanzania, Mohammed Chande Othman announced to reporters on Sunday that he has selected the 14 judges who will undergo special training to effectively handle the cases.

“The decision by the government to introduce the special court is very clear – that is to fast-track hearing of such cases through effective handling. We have already allocated premises for the court in Dar es Salaam. We have also set guidelines, including the one to the effect that all cases filed should be fully investigated before they are brought to court,” he said.

Mr Othman added that hearing for lawsuits filed at the special court will not exceed nine months after its submission.

The amended legislation, if signed by the president into law, will empower the Chief Justice to establish new guidelines for opening charges and protecting witnesses.

The Chief Justice assured that he will develop guidelines to secure all witness testimonies as he called on the public to trust the court.

Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli has promised since he took office in November to reduce corruption, cut wasteful spending and improve public services.

In his inaugural address, Magufuli announced the creation of the special court to deal with corrupt public officials.

A number of senior officials in the Tanzania Revenue Authority, including its commissioner general, and in the Tanzania Ports Authority were suspended over a scandal involving the nonpayment of $40 million in import taxes.

Also, the director general of the state’s Prevention and Combatting of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) was sacked for incompetence and the official in charge of rolling out Tanzania’s national identity card program was fired over allegations of graft.