26 October 2009

Uganda: Radio Panelists Sue State for Imprisonment

After court in Fort Portal dismissed a two-year case against the six radio panelists earlier accused of inciting violence and libel, the panelists have decided to sue the state for wrongful arrest.

Police in Fort Portal in January 2008 arrested Mr Joram Bitamanya, Mr Prosper Busingye, Mr Gerald Kankya, Mr William Gonza, Mr Dan Rubombora and Mr Steven Rwagweri for allegedly inciting violence and engaging in defamation.

This was after the state accused the panelists that they appeared on Fort Portal based 98.3 Life FM and incited the people against the government by accusing it of not prosecuting the suspects who destroyed the station's transmitter.

But Grade One Magistrate Alex Mushabe on September 20 dismissed without costs the case on grounds that prosecution had dragged the case for two years without giving any evidence.

"For nearly two years prosecution had all ample time to summon all witnesses it deemed fit to testify against the accused, this court therefore finds it unfit to further adjourn the case," Mr Mushabe ruled, adding: "Surely the evidence by the prosecution falls short of the standard required to prove the ingredients of the counts."

Now the panelists through their lawyers, M/s J. Musana & Co Advocates, have served the Attorney General a notice suing for wrongful imprisonment and malicious prosecution.

"In the first case, it was wrongful for the state to arrest them because there was no inciting violence nor was there false publication" said Mr Musana in an interview with Daily Monitor on Friday.

He added, "Therefore we are suing the Attorney General for wrongful imprisonment and malicious prosecution."

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