ARMENIAN Vardan Mkhitaryan (47) and a Tanzanian Rosemary Mwemezi (32), appeared before the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam yesterday charged with several counts relating to fraudulent use of communication network and occasioning loss to the government.
Before Senior Resident Magistrate Augustina Mbando, the accused persons were not allowed to enter plea to the charges because the case against them falls under the Economic and Organised Crime Control Act.
Other counts include conspiracy to commit an offence, operating electronic communications without a license, use of unapproved electronic equipment, importation and installation of electronic communication equipment without a license and use of unapproved electronic equipment.
The case was adjourned to June 18, 2020, for mention as investigations, according to State Attorney Jacqueline Nyantory, for the prosecution, are incomplete. The magistrate ordered them to remain in remand as her court lacked jurisdiction to entertain anything, including the question of bail.
It is alleged that on diverse dates between October 1, 2019 and May 28, 2020 at various places within the city of Dar es Salaam, Mkhitaryan, who is a Property Manager with Classic Mall and Rosemary, a Security Guard, conspired to commit an offence of fraudulent use of network facility.
The trial attorney told the court that between October 1 and 30, 2019 in Dar es Salaam, Mkhitaryan imported into Tanzania some electronic communication equipment, which are Airtel Wireless Gateways without having a license issued by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
According to the prosecution, the accused persons within the same period installed and operated the said equipment without license and that between October 10, 2019 and May 28, 2020 allegedly used the equipment which were not approved by the Authority.
Within the same period at Mbezi beach area within Kinondoni District in the city of Dar es Salaam, with intent to avoid rates payable for receiving or transmitting international incoming traffic, the two accused persons allegedly dishonestly transmitted international incoming traffic.
The prosecution further alleged that October 10, 2019 and May 28, 2020 at Mbezi Beach area in Kinondoni District, knowingly and by their willful acts, Mkhitaryan and Rosemary caused the government of Tanzania and TCRA to suffer a pecuniary loss of 44,552,175/-.
Meanwhile, the same court sentenced businessman Obadia Kwitega to either pay 5m/- fine or go to jail for one year for providing contents on his online television without license issued by TCRA.
Principal Resident Magistrate Janeth Matega imposed such sentence after convicting the businessman, who runs Bongotimes TV on his own plea of guilty. In addition, the magistrate ordered the convict to pay 2m/-as compensation to the government for committing the crime.
Initially, the businessman had entered into plea bargaining agreement with the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in order to end the trial. Following such agreement, which was accepted, the prosecution made some modification of the charges by dropping one count against the businessman.
Before being sentenced, the businessman requested the court to provide him lenient sentence considering that he is the first offender and has several people who depend him. He also told the court that he has a woman whom they would get married soon.
On the other hand, the prosecution, led by State Attorney Faraji Nguka, requested the court to punish the businessman in accordance with the law and the terms and conditions of the agreement in order to serve lessons to him and others who might be tempted to commit similar crimes.
The prosecution had told the court that on diverse dates between January 29, 2017 and March 29, 2019 at various places in Dar es Salaam City, through his online Television known as Bongotimes TV, the businessman provided online contents with license issued by TCRA.