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Court orders govt to pay Shs 3billion over 2013 closure of Daily Monitor newspaper

The then AIGP Late Andrew Felix Kaweesi inspects the 10-day siege of Monitor Publications Ltd by Police from  May 20 to 30, 2013. Govt has been ordered to pay for this police action (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – The Commercial Division of the High Court has ordered the government to pay Shs3 billion in compensation to Monitor Publications Ltd (MPL) for the loss of revenue the company suffered during its 10-day closure by police in 2013.

In a ruling issued by Justice David Wangututsi on Thursday, August 16, the government was faulted for abusing the court order granted to it to search the company offices in Namuwongo, Kampala, purportedly to find the letter issued to the company by then coordinator of intelligence agencies Gen David Sejusa.

The court order was prompted when the Daily Monitor newspaper on May 7, 2013, published a story titled ‘Probe assassination claims -Sejusa’ claiming that the outspoken Sejusa had issued a letter that said the government was planning to assassinate all its officials opposed to a secret plan to have First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba succeed President Museveni.

After unsuccessfully failing to get information on the matter from Risdel Kasasira and Richard Wanambwa who authored the story, and the company senior editors, through the CID, the police then obtained a court order to search the company offices for four days, purportedly in search for the letter.

This later culminated in the closure of the company, stopping the publication of the Daily Monitor newspaper and shutdown of KFM and Dembe radio stations for 10 days, from May 20, 2013, to May 30, 2013.

Police cordon off Daily Monitor office premises in Namuwongo, after the newspaper published a controversial letter in May 2013 (FILE PHOTO)

The company, through its lawyers, Nangwala and Rezda Company Advocates, had sued the company, claiming it suffered a loss of Shs1.5 billion during its closure.

And on Thursday, Justice Wangututsi ruled: “This court orders the government to pay Monitor Publications Limited Shs945m as special damages for the loss of business during the siege.”

The damages come with 18% interest from the time the matter was filed in court till payment in full, he added.

He also awarded MPL Shs200m in both general and aggravated damages which will earn 4% interest from August 16, 2018, up to full payment.

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