Trial judge keeping Red Pepper journalists idle, says lawyer

Trial judge keeping Red Pepper journalists idle, says lawyer
Eazzy Banking

Buganda road court magistrate Samuel Kagoda who represented trial judge James Mawanda Eremye has adjourned the offensive communication case against eight Red Pepper Publication journalists to February 14.

The magistrate has also given the State handling the offensive communication case, a month to go on with investigations on the seized electronics and accessories of the Red Pepper. The charges directed at the persons of President Yoweri Museveni and his brother, Gen. Salim Saleh  arise from publication of a story in the Red Pepper of 20 November 2017 titled, “M7 plotting to overthrow Kagame – Rwanda”. The paper was raided by police the next day which sealed off the premises, took phones, laptops and gadgets belonging to staff.

However, Denis Nyombi, one of the lawyers for the accused, while speaking at the Buganda Road Magistrate court today, said it was wrong for court to grant the orders after an ex parte application in which they were not represented.  He said the order violated their right to a fair hearing. An ex parte application is one where only one side is represented in court.

Nyombi also argued that the order has rendered other workers of the Red Pepper Publication jobless since their workplace is cordoned off by security personnel.

But the State prosecutor Abdul Salaam Waiswa said he could not respond to the submission of the defence lawyer because the trial magistrate was not in court at the time.

The accused are directors Richard Tusiime, Patrick Mugumya, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, James Mujuni and Johnson Musinguzi; and Ben Byarabaha (managing editor), Richard Kintu (news editor), and Tumusiime Francis Tinywana (general manager and Bwino newspaper editor).

To-date, all Pepper publications, namely: Red Pepper, Kamunye, Entatsi and Bwino have not been in circulation as their premises in Namanve remain sealed off by police.

Red pepper bosses will return to court on 14th February 2018 for mention of a case where they are accused of among others disturbing the piece of President Yoweri Museveni.

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