Police to grill NMG-U bosses next week

Friday June 18 2021
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NMG-Uganda managing director Tony Glencross (left) and managing editor Tabu Butagira leave the CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala, yesterday. PHOTO/STEPHEN OTAGE

By Franklin Draku

Police yesterday deferred the interrogation of top managers of Monitor Publications Ltd (MPL), the publisher of Daily Monitor newspaper, to Thursday next week.

MPL is a Ugandan subsidiary of the Nairobi-headquartered Nation Media Group (NMG).

Nation Media Group-Uganda (NMG-U) managing director Tony Glencross and Mr Tabu Butagira, the managing editor, were summoned on June 1.

They, however, did not appear the next day as directed because of the short notice and in addition, Mr Glencross was in self-isolation following an exposure to a person who tested positive for Covid-19.

Lawyers of the duo wrote to Mr Paul Kato, the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) administrator, who signed the summonses, communicating that Mr Glencross and Mr Butagira would instead present themselves for questioning yesterday.

When they appeared at the CID headquarters in Kibuli, Kampala, Mr Kato said he had not received the prior reporting notification and, as such, they were not prepared to receive the duo represented by external lawyer Richard Bwayo and Company Secretary Timothy Ntale.

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Both parties mutually agreed to defer the interrogation by a week. 

“Yes, they (police) extended the summons to June 24... they gave two reasons for the extension; one that they are fumigating (the offices due to Covid-19) and could not meet members of the public and secondly, [Mr Kato] told us that he had not received the letter we had written to inform him that we would appear (yesterday),” Mr Bwayo said.

Mr Glencross and Mr Butagira were summoned in relation to a May 31,  Daily Monitor story titled: ‘New evidence on Nov city killings emerge’, whose contents police allege were false, libelous and constituted incitement to violence.

The Constitutional Court in 2000 quashed the law criminalising false news, but detectives still preferred the charge.

In the May 31 edition, this newspaper, based on an investigation by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reported new evidence suggesting that some of the armed men who shot at, and killed, alleged rioters on Kampala Road during the November 2020 riots, drove in a police patrol vehicle.

The individuals that the UK public broadcaster pin-pointed, following a forensic analysis of 400 videos of the November protests, wore military police and field force police uniforms and brandished AK-47 rifles.

Titled: ‘Three Killings in Kampala’, the BBC documentary showed that seven people were shot within a minute between E-Towers and Mabirizi Tower on Kampala Road by men seated on the left backside of the police pick-up truck.

Mr Glencross said they would comply with lawful police actions but would never compromise the newspaper’s bold reporting on public affairs.

“In terms of editorial and journalistic independence, this summons will not affect our independence. We have very strong editorial ethos and policies and we will stick to the policies in the face of these kinds of adversities. We will continue to support the journalists and the editorial team as much as I can in the achievement of their independence and balance,” he said.

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