Kampala, January, 31st,2012; Court in Kampala has differed its ruling in a forgery case against the Daily Monitor Managing Editor, Daniel Kalinaki and the Political Editor Henry Ochieng. The ruling is now slated for February/ 07th/2012. The Makindye Court Chief Magistrate, Kavuma Joyce had set January/ 30th/2012 to rule on whether or not the accused has a case to answer.
The prosecution led by Samali Wakholi alleges that the duo, between July 31, 2009and August 2nd/ 2009 at the Monitor publication offices in Kampala, despite publishing the correct content of the letter on the newspaper website on July 31, subsequently forged the same letter by way of introducing alterations in the Sunday Monitor of August 2nd, 2009 titled; Museveni’s letter on Bunyoro land question?.
Kalinaki and Ochieng appeared at the Makindye court with their lawyers James Nangwala andAlex Luzinda, only to be told that the ruling had been differed. The editors deny the allegations. It is over two years since they were arrested and charged in court, and they are the first in the history of Ugandan media to be charged with forgery.
In the said letter, President Museveni, in a bid to calm down the tensions between the locals, was proposing that elective positions in Bunyoro be ring-fenced formatives that are out-numbered by the majority immigrants. Haruna Kanaabi, the Executive Secretary Independent Media Council, said this is a strange case. “In my long career of journalism, I find it very strange that a journalist is charged with forgery simply because he reproduced a document. If sustained, this would mean that ethical matters are criminalized. This stands to be a landmark case”.
Upon conviction, the accused are liable to three years imprisonment. “Journalists in Uganda want the police to let the media freely operate as according to the existing laws other than resort to such prohibitive systems to stifle investigative journalism and debates. Police is inventing new ways of replacing the nullified laws bent on suppressing journalists”. Said the HRNJ-Uganda Programme CoordinatorWokulira Ssebaggala
He added that the Police should realize the need for a free media in a democratic society. HRNJ-Uganda appeals to the judiciary to expedite the process of ruling on this case, or else journalists would be kept in perpetual fear thereby curtailing their work.