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Red Pepper to Appeal UGX 425M Defamation Judgement :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Red Pepper to Appeal UGX 425M Defamation Judgement

Lawyers representing the Pepper Publications Limited, a company that owns The Red Pepper say they will appeal judgment in which court awarded 425 million Shillings to retired Chief Justice Samuel William Wako Wambuzi in defamation damages.
Lawyers representing the Pepper Publications Limited, a company that owns The Red Pepper say they will appeal judgment in which court awarded 425 million Shillings to retired Chief Justice Samuel William Wako Wambuzi in defamation damages.

Maxim Mutabingwa of Mutabingwa & Company Advocates, who represented The Red Pepper in the case, told Uganda Radio Network that they are studying Justice Patricia Basaza Wasswa's Thursday judgement with the intention of challenging it.

In a 25-page ruling, Justice Basaza ordered that "the Red Pepper shall pay to the Justice Wambuzi general damages for libel in the sum of three hundred seventy five million Uganda shillings and an extra fifty million Uganda shillings as exemplary damages."

Justice Wambuzi sued The Red Pepper in December 2015 over its story titled “Exposed! 100 most indebted personalities revealed”. The newspaper, in its edition of October 11, 2015 reported that Wambuzi, owner of Greenhill Schools, was choking on a 100 billion-Shilling debt from a top city commercial bank which he had secured to expand the schools' projects but failed to pay.

Wambuzi told court that the wording of the story portrayed him as an extravagant man living beyond his means and finances, and depending on borrowing from financial institutions. The story claimed that Wambuzi "is living under extreme pressure over the loan interest yet he had envisioned a peaceful retirement."

Wambuzi told court that he is not proprietor of the Greenhill Academy but his departed wife was among seven directors who owned the schools. When she died, the family took over her shares. He also told court that at the time of publication of the story, neither he nor Greenhill academy had a loan. He said Greenhill had a shillings three billion loan which was settled six months prior to the publication of the story.

A permanent injunction restraining The Red Pepper or their agents from further publishing similar defamatory statements was also granted. Justice Wambuzi was also awarded costs of the suit.

In awarding general and exemplary damages, Justice Basaza said she considered the reputation of Justice Wambuzi as a three-time former chief justice, the gravity of libel, wide circulation of The Red Pepper, the highly sensational headline under which the publication was made and admission by the newspaper that they did not verify content of the story before publishing it.

Wambuzi served as Uganda's chief justice from 1972 to 1975; 1979 to 1980; and 1986 to 2001.

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