The story last week – Kampala terror attacks verdict and media coverage

It was a wait with bated breath as Ugandans looked forward to the verdict on the 11 July 2010 terror attacks in Kampala.

From 26-27 May 2016, relatives and friends of the more than 70 people who died and scores others who were injured in the terror attacks, turned their attention to live television broadcasts, radio updates and social media commentary for details of who would be convicted or acquitted and what their sentences would be.

Justice Alphones Owiny-Dollo, the man of the moment, referred to the terror attacks as “the execution of a heinous plan”. He found eight of the suspects guilty, and five not guilty, according to reports by all three main newspapers – Daily Monitor, New Vision and The Observer as well as TV stations.

Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kabalagala and Kyadondo Rugby Club – the scenes of the twin bombings, were once again projected to the limelight.

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It had taken nearly six years to arrive at the verdict, mostly due to the length of investigating the crime and complexities in dispensing justice.

Many people turned to the mainstream media for updates and analysis of the big story; and they were informed through live broadcasts/streaming as well as minute by minute update on different websites and other social media sites.

One of the key things that emerged during the reporting was the number of those who died in the terror attacks – was it 81, 74 or 70 as some media houses reported, or 76 like it was in the charge sheet?

Were the number of those convicted 8 like it was reported by Daily Monitor, The Observer, and New Vision in their 27 May print editions, or 7 like others did? Interestingly, Daily Monitor in its print edition said 8 people were found guilty and on its Twitter account tweeted 7 as the number of those found guilty.

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The names of the suspects and what the correct spellings were also gave some media houses a nightmare. Was it Hassan Agade who got convicted as New Vision reported, Hussein Hassan Agad like the Daily Monitor reported or Hassan Hussein Agade like it was in The Observer?

Uganda, unlike its neighbor Kenya, has not experienced a deadly terror attack like it did in 2010. Several terror alerts have been issued from time to time by the police but as NTV Uganda reported, Ugandans may not be as prepared or safe as the absence of the attack suggests. In all this, the public will be counting on the media for an accurate and timely reporting on the same.


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