Sabahi (Washington, DC)

Tanzania Acquits Three Journalists of Sedition

A Tanzanian court on Wednesday (January 29th) acquitted three journalists charged two years ago with publishing a seditious article against the Tanzanian government for lack of evidence.

"The prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case. I hereby acquit the accused persons," Magistrate Warialwande Lema said according to AFP.

The three were prosecuted in November 2011 for writing an article in which they said police backed the ruling party at the expense of the opposition, which the prosecution claimed was a call to the police not to recognise the authority of the government.

The acquitted were Samson Mwigamba, who had worked at Tanzania Daima (Tanzania Forever) newspaper, his editor Absalom Kibanda and Theophil Makunga of Mwananchi Communication.

"We thank the court for proving that journalists are free to express their views for the purpose of educating members of the public," Kibanda said, speaking after the verdict Wednesday. "This is our duty, and we must do it without fearing anybody."

The Committee to Protect Journalists warned last year that journalists in Tanzania face increasing threats and lack government protection.

Kibanda, in an incident unrelated to his trial, was attacked at his house last year by unknown assailants, in which he was blinded in one eye and had part of a finger hacked off.

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