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Former Uganda health minister faces embezzlement trial

[JURIST] Former Ugandan health minister Jim Muhwezi [New Vision profile] went to trial Monday on charges of embezzlement and abuse of office. Muhwezi is alleged to have misused $4.3 million in grants donated to the government of Uganda by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and the Immunization (GAVI) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria [advocacy websites] to help develop vaccines and immunizations for AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. In 2005, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria froze an additional $150 million in grants [BBC report] after investigators noticed discrepancies when converting the money from US dollars to Ugandan shillings. Muhwezi has denied [BBC report] all charges.

Four other former senior government officials, including three of Muhwezi's deputies, have also been implicated in the scam. Muhwezi and his deputies were charged and released on bail [BBC report] in May. Muhwezi had acted as the minister for primary education until 1999, when suspicions arose surrounding his personal finances. He became minister of health in 2001 but was dropped from the cabinet after investigations began into the vaccine and immunization scandal. BBC News has more.

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