Red Pepper staff returned to Luzira ‘not to endanger security’

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The editors and directors in court

Red Pepper journalists have further been remanded in Luzira prison until the magistrate decides on their bail application.

Buganda Road Court chief magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda adjourned to the case to December 19 on advice of Abdul-Salam Waiswa, a prosecutor from the Uganda Communications commission (UCC).

Courts are about to break off for Christmas and the leading tabloid remains closed.

UCC prosecutor Waiswa on Tuesday told the magistrate that releasing the eight directors and editors charged with offending President Museveni would endanger “national security”.

He argued that once free, the journalists are likely to repeat the offence that is, publishing information prejudicial to security, libel and offensive communication to the person of president Museveni and his brother Gen Salim Saleh.

Waiswa quoted the affidavit of the investigating officer Assistant commissioner of police Isaac Oketcho, who informed court that if the suspects are set free, they will gain access to their computers, e-mails and mobile phones and there is a likelihood of re-connecting with their networks to frustrate the on-going investigations.

The prosecutor further argued that the journalists are a danger to Uganda, Rwanda and the entire great lakes regional security since their story pitted Museveni against President Paul Kagame.

They are; five directors Richard Tusiime [the Managing Director], Johnson Musinguzi [the Finance Director], Patrick Mugumya [the Director Operations] and Arinatiwe Rugyendo [a director who also doubles as the company secretary and chief marketing officer].

Editors are; Richard Kintu [the Deputy News Editor], Ben Byarabaha [a senior Editor] and Francis Tumusiime [the special project Editor] and James Mujuni, a journalist.

Prosecution states the accused on November 20, 2017 at their offices in Namanve Mukono District, the journalists unlawfully caused publication and distribution of a newspaper headline regarding the military operations, strategies and troop location well knowing that such publication can disrupt public Order and security.

In the libel charge, the accused are said to have caused publication and distribution of newspaper storylines that injured the reputations of president Museveni, his brother Gen Salim Saleh and security minister Lt. Gen Henry Tumukunde which publication allegedly subjected the trio to hatred, contempt and ridicule.