Monitor and police court battle starts Thursday

Wednesday May 29 2013

By ANTHONY WESAKA

The Kampala High Court is Thursday expected to start hearing an application in which four Daily Monitor journalists are challenging orders issued by Nakawa Court, demanding that the newspaper should give police the original letter written by Gen. David Sejusa.

The court order also directed that the newspaper should reveal its source.

The date was set last week by the registrar after four journalists: Mr Simon Freeman (executive editor), Mr Don Wanyama, (managing editor), Mr Richard Wanambwa and Mr Risdel Kasasira, ( both reporters ), petitioned the High Court over the Nakawa Court order.

The order dated May 16, were issued by Senior Principal Magistrate Grade I, Rosemary Bareebe after a petition by D/ASP Emmanuel Mbonipa.

The police said the original letter and the source of the story; are critical to their investigations since the dossier was shown as the basis of the publication.

Gen. Sejusa, in his letter, asked the Director General of Internal Security Organisation to investigate allegations that there was a plot to assassinate top army and government officials opposed to an alleged plan to enable Brig. Muhoozi Keinerugaba succeed his father as the next president. ("Muhoozi project").

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The journalists, who sued the chief government legal adviser (Attorney General), in their complaint, claim the order, which directs them to produce the original letter written by Gen. Sejusa, is misdirected as none of them is named as the author or a recipient.

The journalists explain that in the circumstances, they cannot possess the original letter.

Further in their complaint, the journalists say Ms Bareebe did not accord them a hearing before coming up with such orders, which action, they say are against the rules of natural justice.

They also contend that the court orders given by Ms Bareebe demanding that they should disclose the sources of information given to the press is a violation of the fundamental right to freedom of expression and the press.

Through their lawyer, Mr James Nangwala, the journalists are seeking court orders prohibiting D/ASP Mboniapa and any other police officer from compelling them to disclose the source of information in relation to the article published in the Daily Monitor of May 7.

This application will be heard at a time when Ms Bareebe revoked the search warrant given to police to search for the original letter at the Monitor Publications offices on grounds that mandate given by the order was over ‘stepped’ by the police.

However, police have not vacated the Monitor Publications premises in Namuwongo, Kampala. They wrote to the Registrar of Nakawa High Court, claiming that the magistrate had no jurisdiction to cancel her own orders.

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