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Detained Ugandan journalists granted bail

Detained Ugandan journalists granted bail

Uganda

The eight directors and editors of a local newspaper that had been charged with several charges including defamation and offensive communication over a story alleging that President Museveni’s government was planning an invasion on Rwanda, have been granted bail.

The editors who had spent close to a month in detention were on Tuesday granted non-cash bail of Shs20 million while their sureties were also bonded at Shs20 million each.

“The accused should deposit their passports with the court until the matter is disposed off and if they are with police, the responsible people are tasked to produce them to court.”

I have considered the fact that the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty and it would be necessary to be given their liberty

The bail was granted by Chief Magistrate Eremye Mawanda. Grade One Magistrate Samuel Kagoda who read the ruling on behalf of Mawanda adjourned the case to January 19, 2018.

“I have considered the fact that the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty and it would be necessary to be given their liberty,”said the magistrate.

The journalists had earlier this month been denied bail after prosecution argued that they would interfere with investigations and intimidate witnesses if granted bail.

The Red Pepper, which the editors manage, has for a long time been a polarising and controversial publication in Uganda. Categorised as a tabloid, the paper that started in 2001 has ruffled feathers of different sections of society by publishing salacious content about the private lives of celebrities and ordinary Ugandans alike.

In recent years it has moved to include more political coverage and has some times irked authorities with audacious headlines on security, diplomacy and power maneuvers in the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

Press freedom defenders and the journalism fraternity condemned the detention of the journalists despite divided individual opinion about its journalism.

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