Monday, November 14, 2011

Journalist being tried under a ghost charge

11th/Nov/2011; Hearing of a case in which Uganda Record Managing Editor Timothy Kalyegira is accused of non-existing charges has kicked off with one witness taking a stand.
Kalyegira who has been under police harassment since Aug 3rd 2010 is being tried at Kampala City hall Grade One magistrate court.
Since August 2010, Kalyegira has reported on bond at Kira road police station for more than 18 times.  Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) complained to relevant authorities which resulted into the file to be rushed to court.
Although the sedition charge which was preferred against Kalyegira earlier in 2010 and dropped but the content of the same offence is being maintained on the charge sheet including the “defaming the person of the president’.
Kira road police station CID chief Haguma Prima was the first witness to take stand on November 7th 2011. As an investigating police officer, she did not state the offence Kalyegira committed rather narrated processes the accused underwent after the arrest including the house search.
She narrated that during interrogation the accused denied ownership of the website and the existence of the documents. That after the interrogation the accused was granted police bond and told to report the next day on the 4th of August for further questioning.
“The accused did report on the 4th wherein a search team proceeded to his home, in his presence and recovered exhibits which included 2 passports (B226638 and B0549160), a laptop and its power supply, a Warid internet modem, a Nokia mobile phone, a Warid Sim-card, 2 magazines (Uganda news records) and 2 letters in respect of the monitor dated 14th and 15th April 1994” said Haguma.
She added that all items were then marked and taken to the exhibit store with the exception of the laptop which was taken to the Police Information Department for expert analysis. The password for the laptop was obtained from the accused but access to his personal emails was impossible because police failed to hack in.
However, Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) has discovered that there’s no stated charge against Kalyegira on the charge sheet which is before court.
One Atwine Innocent a complainant in this case, at one point in the statement accuses Kalyegira of publishing a magazine and later changes saying he (Kalyegira) printed on the website materials found to be defamatory in nature.

The defence lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi challenged the trial of his client saying the charge sheet does not enunciate what exactly the accused did that defamed the person of the president.

“It’s very hard for the accused to defend himself when he does not know what he is said to have done. Prosecution witness 1 (PW1) used words like print, publish but she was not clear about what exactly the accused printed and published. In one statement, she said it’s the complainant who printed the documents and in another breath, she said that it is the accused who printed. These inconsistencies are confusing” Said Rwakafuuzi.

He asked court that the charges be dismissed for ambiguity or in the alternative, be amended to include what exactly the accused is said to have done.

Court fixed November 16th 2011 as a date to decide whether or not there is a case to be answer by the accused.

For More Information Contact;
Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda)
Kivebulaya Road – Mengo Kampala Opp. St. Marcelino Pre. School
P.O.BOX. 71314 Clock Tower Kampala
Tel: +256-414-272934 / +256-414-667627

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