Wabudeya testifies first in case against editors

Thursday November 11 2010

WALK TO FREEDOM? Mr Kalinaki (R), Mr Ochieng (behind) leave court with their lawyer Mr James Nangwala.

WALK TO FREEDOM? Mr Kalinaki (R), Mr Ochieng (behind) leave court with their lawyer Mr James Nangwala. PHOTOS BY ANTHONY WESAKA 

By Anthony Wesaka

The Minister for Presidency, Ms Beatrice Wabudeya, yesterday told Makindye Court that she was surprised to see the contents of a confidential letter on the Banyoro/Bafuruki question written by President Museveni addressed to her in the press.

The minister was testifying before Makindye Chief Magistrate Joyce Kavuma in a case in which two Daily Monitor editors, Mr Daniel Kalinaki, the managing editor, and Mr Henry Ochieng, the political editor, are accused of forging President Museveni’s letter by altering it.

Ms Wabudeya, who is also the Sironko District Woman MP, added: “Cabinet matters are confidential and the matter that was addressed to me was appearing in papers. Nobody had asked me for the letter and nobody knew whether I had got it or not.”
The articles in question are Museveni drops tribal bomb shell published on July 31, 2009, and another was Anger over Museveni tribal talk published on August 2, 2009.

According to the minister, the July 15, 2009 letter written by the President was addressed to her as the chairperson of the Cabinet committee to guide her in the tasks of handling the matter of Banyoro/Banfuruki question in Bunyoro region.
The problem was revolving around land ownership and political rights.
In her testimony that lasted for over four hours, she said the editors altered some of the content in that letter.

She cited some alterations as follows; the word Bahuma to read Bahima, ring fencing LC5 position in Bunyoro and sub-county leadership except for areas of Kasiita and Luteete to ring fencing sub county leadership in the whole of Bunyoro region.

Other alterations she cited in the letter are; absentee landlords should be compensated to absentee landlords should leave the land, traditional chiefs to traditional chiefs like of Mengo in Uganda and lastly the committee should work on the principals mentioned above to see whether they can work to the committee must see them work.

Portraying president
When asked by the editor’s lawyer, Mr James Nangwala, in her opinion what she would make of the President’s letter in line with what was published, she said: “I felt that the paper wanted to portray the President in a negative way as being tribalistic.”

Prosecution alleges that the editors on July 31, 2009, and August 2, 2009, at the Monitor Publications Ltd offices in Kampala, despite of publishing the correct content of the letter on the newspaper’s website on July 31, they subsequently forged that letter by way of introducing alterations in the Sunday Monitor of August 2 2009, on page 4 titled ‘Museveni’s letter on Bunyoro land question’
However, the scribes denied all the allegations.

In a twist of events, towards the end of the hearing, the defence lawyers discovered that they were given an unsigned draft of the letter which was not on a letter head and not officially stamped. Mr Nangwala said it was an unfair act by prosecution.

Prosecutor Samali Wakoli said she had just taken on the matter and that she thought her predecessor had handed them the right photocopy.

Magistrate Kavuma concurred with the defence lawyer and ordered prosecution to avail them with all the necessary prosecution witnesses’ statements to enable them prepare efficiently for their defence.
The hearing resumes on December 9.

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