Kalangala, 23rd/April/2012; The trial of a Central Broadcasting Service (CBS) journalist Ronald Ssembuusi has failed to take off due to a power blackout in the area which failed the prosecution from playing the said libelous material for court. So the state sought to adjourn the case.
Earlier on Ssembuusi’s lawyer, Catherine Anite raised a preliminary objection to the legality of the offence saying that the Penal Code Act does not envisage the facts of the offence with which Ssembuusi was charged since it provides for criminal libel and not slander and that it explicitly excludes sound which is a production and not a publication. She prayed that the matter be dismissed but the trial magistrate Hon. Gimungu Kenneth Kabiri overruled the objection and tasked the prosecution to prove that what the accused allegedly said also amounts to libel and not slander.
Daniel Kikoola the former Kalangala district chairperson 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 Kikoola 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.
The case was adjourned to 5th/July/2012. It will be up for mention on 25th/May and 14th/June this year.
“HRNJ-Uganda appreciates the fact that the trial magistrate expedited his ruling on the objections raised and prays that the subsequent hearings be handled the same way. We also call upon the judiciary to speed up pending trials involving other journalists” said HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator, Wokulira Ssebaggala.