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Hearing of criminal defamation case continues, as Parliamentary reporters academic suit commences. (Demo)

Kampala, 28th /April /2016; Further hearing of a criminal defamation case in which four journalists; Ronald Nahebwa, Benon Tugumisirize, Madina Nalwanga and Patrick Tumwesige are accused of defaming city tycoons Ephraim Ntaganda and Drake Lubega continued on 28th /April/2016 with the second prosecution witness Serugo Denis Richard adducing evidence.

During cross examination by four lawyers, Serugo told court presided over by the Chief Magistrate, Kalemani James, that on May 18th 2015, he read an article published in Bukedde paper to the effect that Ephraim Ntaganda and Drake Lubega were trailing a one Juma Segawa to kill him. He said a similar story was published in Hello Magazine on 4th June 2015 which prompted him to advise Ntaganda to open up a case against Juma Segawa Tamale at the Central Police Station in Kampala.

Asked whether the stories were published by Segawa, Serugo told court that the stories were published by the journalists who revealed what Segawa had reported to them.

The four journalists were added on the charge that originally had only Juma Ssegawa Tamale after they declined to disclose and testify against their source of information.

A court session involving journalists charged with criminal defamation

Prosecution led by Peter Mugisha alleges that the four journalists on 18th, 31st May and 4th June 2015 published in Bukedde paper and Red Pepper/Hello newspapers defamatory statements against Lubega and Ntaganda. Mugisha claims that stories published suggested that the duo was trailing Ssegawa to kill him over land ownership disputes. They further alleged that Tamale told them that Ntaganda was conniving with Lubega and others to forcefully grab his land and had hired boda boda(commercial cyclists) to trail the said Juma, threatening 
to kill him if he does not leave the land.

The journalists are represented by Wameli Anthony, Tom Ochaya, Kirabira Tonny and Ibrahim Kivumbi. The case was adjourned to 27th May 2016 for mention and 13th June 2016 for further hearing.

In another development, in the High Court, a case in which Parliamentary reporters under their umbrella organization, the Uganda Parliamentary Press Association (UPPA) are challenging a directive by the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, requiring journalists reporting in Parliament to possess an academic qualification of a Degree with a minimum three year working experience, commenced on 26th/4/2016.

The journalists through their lawyers Isaac Kimaze and Namahe Sheila argued that the degree requirement for accreditation of reporters for the 10th Parliament infringes on their fundamental rights and freedoms. The matter before Justice Yasin Nyanzi was adjourned to 2nd May, 2016 for further hearing. The journalists contend that there was a ploy to lock out certain journalists.

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