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Attorney General loses appeal in 54bn/- Meis Industries suit

THE Court of Appeal on Thursday struck out with cost an application by the Attorney General (AG) seeking to block payments of 54bn/- to Meis Industries Limited.

In the case, Meis Industries Limited was awarded 54bn/- by the High Court last year as a fine for a breach of contract in the construction of a cement factory in Lindi by the Libyan Government.

The court ordered the AG to pay costs amounting to 1.6bn/- which is three per cent of the payments given to the firm earlier.

"I will file an application to demand the 1.6bn/- for my client's legal costs," Meis's counsel Martin Matunda told the 'Daily News' soon after the ruling.

The court struck out all demands in the application, the revision of the decree by the High Court that led to the firm being awarded the 54bn/- and the AG's wish to be a friend of the court.

Presiding Judge Deputy Registrar of the Court of Appeal, John Mgetta struck out the suit saying the AG could not be a friend of the court because there was no pending legal proceedings concerning the case.

He also said another reason for ruling against the application was that the AG had self vested interests in the case.

"Although not a party to the suit, the AG made many unsuccessful attempts to block the execution of the decree," said Mgetta.

He added that the application would have been valid had the AG filed it at the High Court in 2010, when the suit was conclusively determined or in the Court of Appeal, had there been any appeal from a decision of the High Court or any other connected legal proceedings.

Mr Mgetta described the amicus curiae or a friend of the court as someone who is strictly not a party to a particular case. He or she only volunteers by application or is invited by the court, to offer valuable information or advice that might assist in the fair, just and conclusive determination of the case, generally and or of a specific issue under scrutiny in those particular proceedings.

"He can be a professional person, a person with specialized knowledge in a particular field of law, science or art or an organization," explained Mgetta.

On October 27, 2010, High Court Judge Samwel Karua ordered the Government of Libya to pay Meis Industries Limited 20 million US dollars and 14 million US dollars as general damages for breach of a contract involving construction of a cement factory in Lindi.

It is claimed in the suit that the government of Tanzania owes the Libyan Government a sum of 101,687,077.50 US dollars. As a result of successful negotiations between the two states, a debt swap agreement was sealed on July 20, 2005.

The Libyan government agreed to cancel interests and penalty and opted for a debt swap of 40m US dollars, emanating from the said 101,687,077.50 US dollars. The two countries agreed that two accounts be opened in local banks, one at the National Bank of Commerce and another at TIB.

Each account was credited with 20m US dollars. It was agreed further that the amount deposited would be invested in project mutually agreed by the two countries. The government later ended up paying 54bn/- to Meis Industries Limited.