The Kampala City Hall Court on Monday adjourned the hearing of a case in which Uganda Record Managing Editor Timothy Kalyegira is accused of defamation.
Prosecution alleges that on July 12 and 16, 2010 in Kampala, with intent to defame the person of the President, Mr Kalyegira unlawfully published defamatory matter on the Uganda Record, an online publication, when he published that government was behind the July 11, 2010 twin bombs that killed at least 76 Ugandans at the Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala and Rugby Club in Lugogo as they watched the World Cup soccer final game.
The government blames the attacks on al-shabaab, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. It was incensed that the online publication had run a different version.
The magistrate’s decision was prompted by the early submission of the defence lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi, who asked court to dismiss the case on grounds that the charge sheet does not clearly explain what exactly the accused did that defamed the person of the President.
“It is ambiguous and therefore my client cannot defend himself against a case that he is not sure about. So court should dismiss it because it is wastage of time,” said Mr Rwakafuzi.
Section 179 of the Penal Code Act states “Any person who, by print, writing, painting, effigy or by any means otherwise than solely by gestures, spoken words or other sounds, unlawfully publishes any defamatory matter concerning another person, with intent to defame that other person, commits the misdemeanour termed libel”.
However this law is being challenged by a group of journalists led by ACME's Bernard Tabaire in the Supreme Court.
The Uganda Human Rights Network for Journalists has called for expeditious hearing of the case.
“Human Rights for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) believes that this is yet another measure by the government to frustrate Kalyegira’s resolve to defend himself through an expeditious court process. We therefore call on the court to dismiss the case since government is failing to prosecute it in time.” said Wokulira Ssebaggala, HRNJ-Uganda Programme Coordinator.