Makindye Chief Magistrates Court has acquitted and discharged two Daily Monitor editors accused of forging President Yoweri Museveniâ€™s letter on Bunyoro/Bafuruki land question.
Makindye Chief Magistrates Court has acquitted and discharged two Daily Monitor editors accused of forging President Yoweri Museveni’s letter on Bunyoro/Bafuruki land question.
Daniel Kalinaki, the Managing Editor and Henry Ochieng, the Political Editor were acquitted on Tuesday by the Chief Magistrate Joyce Kavuma, saying the prosecution had failed to prove the vital ingredients of forgery against them.
The magistrate in her ruling also ordered the state to refund the editors’ bail money.
While discharging Ochieng, Kavuma in her ruling stated that the prosecution could not accuse the two editors for working together to publish President Museveni’s altered letter, yet the witnesses failed to link him to the offense as they did not know him or the persons behind the Monitor Newspaper.
And while discharging Kalinaki, the magistrate held that he could not forge Monitor newspaper since he had the authority to publish it.
The editors’ lawyer, James Nangwala ridiculed the office of Director of Public Prosecutions for being used by other people to serve their interests and yet knowing that the charge of forgery could not stand against his clients.
Joyce Kabatsi, private secretary to the President in charge of legal affairs was also present in court to hear the ruling but left immediately after the ruling without commenting. Kabatsi was one of the five state witnesses who testified against the editors.
A joyous Kalinaki said they were happy about the court ruling, adding that when a mistake occurs, the state should not rush to institute charges of forgery against journalists.
Prosecution had alleged that the editors between July 31, 2009, and August 2, 2009, at the Monitor Publications Ltd offices in Kampala, despite publishing the correct content of the letter on the newspaper’s website on July 31, subsequently forged the same letter by way of introducing alterations in the Sunday Monitor of August 2, 2009 titled: ‘Museveni’s letter on Bunyoro land question’.
Some of the words the state claimed the editors altered include; Bahima to read Bahuma, the ring-fencing LC5 position in Bunyoro and sub-county leadership except for areas of Kasiita and Luteete to ring fencing sub county leadership in the whole of Bunyoro region.
Prosecution further claimed that absentee landlords should be compensated was altered to read absentee landlords should leave the land, traditional chiefs changed to read traditional chiefs like of Mengo in Uganda among others.
According to the state, the alterations in the President’s letter were a calculated move by the editors to deceive and defraud the public by their good sales.
In her ruling, the magistrate asked the state to appeal if they felt dissatisfied.