Kalangala, 06th/July/2012; The trial of a Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) journalist Ronald Ssembuusi has kicked off in Kalangala with the prosecution producing three witnesses but exhibits of the alleged defamatory recordings are yet to be produced in court.
Daniel Kikoola, the former Kalangala district chairman who is the complainant appeared as the first prosecution witness. During cross examination, he admitted that he actually did not hear the news but was relying on what he had been told by people who he claimed called him after hearing the said news. He stated that on the 17th of November 2011, he received several phone calls from different people asking him whether he had heard the defamatory news that he was one of the persons who had stolen solar panels.
Kikoola also failed to tell court when exactly he left the office claiming that he had forgotten and yet he clearly remembered the years from 1986 when he was a councilor.
Kikoola denied having ever known Ssembuusi until when this matter came to court but his 3rd witness Kaweesa Gibril told court that he was certain Kikoola knew Ssembuusi way before the court case because he was a prominent CBS reporter and a resident in the area. He further told court that after he heard the defamatory news he called Kikoola and yet in his statement he stated that Kikoola called him.
The second witness Tindyebwa David, a fisherman told court that he knew Ssembuusi for years and that he had never aired out any defamatory news before.
The police witnesses were not available as they had reportedly travelled to Masaka Court to testify in another court case. The presiding magistrate, Kenneth Gimungu adjourned the matter to August 01, 2012 for further hearing.
Kikoola dragged Ssembuusi -a correspondent for the Buganda Kingdom’ private radio for Kalangala district in the Central Uganda region to court accusing him of defamation when he reported a story which aired on CBS radio on 17th/November/2011 that he was being investigated for alleged involvement in the disappearance of solar panels.
He was charged with criminal defamation on 21st/March/2012 and released on Shillings 1 million non-cash bail.
Over 80 solar panels were donated by the African Development Bank through the ministry of water and environment in 2010 to help circulate clean and safe water in Kalangala Town Council. But about 40 (forty) of them went missing. Since November 2011, police have recovered some of them.
“HRNJ-Uganda commends the court for expeditiously handling this matter, but concerned by the failure of the police to produce their witnesses as this may delay the trial which gives an opportunity to Ssembuusi to defend himself against the allegations” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator, Wokulira Ssebaggala.
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