Kampala, 16th/January/2012; Court has adjourned the hearing of a case in which Uganda Record Managing Editor Timothy Kalyegira is accused of defamation.
The City Hall Grade one Magistrate, Juliet Hatanga adjourned the case to 10th/February because the state prosecutor failed to turn up in court.
Kalyegira, who was granted bail by the court, has been under police harassment since Aug 3rd 2010, where he has been summoned to report to Kira road police station for more than 18 times.
The defense lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi wants court to dismiss the case on grounds that the charge sheet does not clearly explain what exactly the accused did that defamed the person of the president. “It is ambiguous and therefore my client cannot defend himself against a case that he is not sure about. So court should dismiss it because it is wastage of time,” explains Rwakafuzi.
Prosecution alleges that on 12th and 16th July 2010 in Kampala district, with intent to defame the person of the president, Kalyegira unlawfully published defamatory matter on the Uganda Records, an online publication when he published that government was behind the plantation of the bombs that went off on July/11th killing more than 80 Ugandans at the Ethiopian village in Kabalagala and Rugby Club in Lugogo.
The government came out and blamed the bombs on al-shaabab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. So it was incensed that the Uganda record publication had run a different story version. Kalyegira was interrogated by security personnel at the CID, which later on searched his home and confiscated his laptop, cell phone, internet modem and passport. The passport has since been returned to him.
Section 179 of the Penal Code Act of 1950 states “Any person who, by print, writing, painting, effigy or by any means otherwise than solely by gestures, spoken words or other sounds, unlawfully publishes any defamatory matter concerning another person, with intent to defame that other person, commits the misdemeanor termed libel”.
However this law is being challenged by a group of journalists led by Barnard Tabaire in the Supreme Court.
“Human Rights for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) believes that this is yet another measure by the government to frustrate Kalyegira’s resolve to defend himself through an expeditious court process. We therefore call on the court to dismiss the case since government is failing to prosecute it in time.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator, Wokulira Ssebaggala.