After a week in detention at Nalufenya, a hardcore criminal detention center, the five Directors and three Editors of the Red Pepper publications have been charged before the Buganda Road Court with seven counts including publication of information prejudicial to national security, libel and offensive communication.
The charged Directors include, Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Patrick Mugumya, Johnson Musinguzi, Richard Tusiime and James Mujuni, and editors; Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Francis Tumusiime.
They appeared on Monday afternoon before Chief Magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda and denied all the offences. A prosecutor from the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Abdul Salaam Waiswa handled the case on behalf of the striking prosecutors, who asked court to adjourn its ruling on the bail application to give the State more time to scrutinize the documents tendered by the seventeen sureties.
The State alleges that on 20th Nov, 2017 at the Red Pepper offices in Namanve in Mukono district, the accused unlawfully caused the publication and distribution of a newspaper headline regarding the military operations, strategies and troop location yet well knowing that such publication can disrupt public order and security.
The suspects, through their lawyers Maxim Mutabingwa, ….Kandebe and Denis Nyombi told court that they were subjected to illegal detention at Nalufenya for a week but still did not finish with the investigations, which was a failure on the part of government, and therefore asked court to grant them bail. They also told court that their phones, laptops and all other gadgets and work tools were confiscated by government hence crippling their work and resources.
In the libel charge, the suspects are accused to have caused publication and distribution of newspaper story lines that injured the reputations of President Museveni, his young brother Gen. Salim Saleh Caleb Akanandwaho and the security minister Lt. Gen. Henry Tumukunde, and that the publication allegedly subjected the trio to hatred, contempt and Ridicule.
The suspects are further accused of willfully and repeatedly used their computers for no legitimate purposes by publishing stories portraying President Museveni, Gen. Salim Saleh and Lt. Gen Tumukunde as having contrived a plot to overthrow the government of the Republic of Rwanda.
Court remanded the suspects to prison until 05th December 2017 when a ruling on their application would be given.
“We believe that the decision by court to deny the suspects bail after a week-long detention at Nalufenya was subjecting them to further subjecting them to abuse. We call on the State to let work resume at the Red Pepper as the court case is going on.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.
Red Pepper premises have remained under siege since 21st Nov, 2017 without producing its regular publications of The Red Pepper Newspaper, Kamunye Newspaper, Entasi Weekly Newspaper and Red Pepper Online.