27 June 2012

Tanzania: Editors, Columnist Deny Sedition Charges

The Mwananchi Communications Limited (MCL) Group Managing Editor Theophil Makunga, Tanzania Daima Managing Editor, Absalom Kibanda and columnist Samson Mwigamba have denied charges of sedition they are facing at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam.

Preliminary hearing of the case continued yesterday at the court and the accused denied all statements read to them by State Attorney, Ms Elizabeth Kaganda, except their names. Ms Kaganda read the statements saying that Kibanda and Mwigamba published in Tanzania Daima newspaper on November 30, 2011 under a headline "Waraka maalum kwa askari wote" (meaning "a special circular to all soldiers").

She said the article through a column called "Kalamu ya Mwigamba" was intended to cause disaffection against the lawful authority. Ms Kaganda later asked leave of the court to tender evidence showing the accused committed the offence. Advocate Gabriel Mnyele and Frank Mwalongo, for the accused, told the court that they want the prosecution to supply the complainant statements to the accused.

Resident Magistrate Waliarwande Lema ordered the prosecution to supply complainant's statement to the accused showing the complaints before the hearing date fixed on August 7, this year. In the case Kibanda and Mwigamba are jointly charged with publishing a seditious article in Tanzania Daima newspaper, issue number 2553 of November 30, 2011. Makunga is separately charged with printing the seditious article.

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