Lawyers representing the five directors and three editors of Red Pepper Publications have today (Friday) protested against an order allowing police’s continued siege of the company offices in Namanve.
In a December 28, 2017 ex parte application, the state through Henry Peter Walulya, the officer investigating the matter, applied for an order allowing police time to keep at the Red Pepper offices pending investigations. The order was granted by Buganda Road Chief Magistrate James Eremye Mawanda.
“The order is valid for a period of one month from the date of issue,” Eremye said, at the time of issuing the order.
However, Denis Nyombi, one of the lawyers for the accused, while speaking at the Buganda Road Magistrate court today, said it was wrong for court to grant the orders after an ex parte application in which they were not represented. He said the order violated their right to a fair hearing.An ex parte application is one where only one side is represented in court.
Nyombi also argued that the order has rendered other workers of the Red Pepper Publication jobless since their workplace is cordoned off by security personnel.
But the State prosecutor Abdul Salaam Waiswa said he could not respond to the submission of the defence lawyer because the trial magistrate was not in court at the time. Magistrate Samuel Kagoda who represented James Mawanda Eremye adjourned the case to February 14.
The five directors and three editors of Red Pepper Publications were charged with offensive communication, sedition and publication of information prejudicial to national security.
The embattled editors include Johnson Musinguzi (director finance), Ben Byarabaha (senior editor)Arinaitwe Rugyendo (chief marketing officer), Richard Kintu (deputy news editor), James Mujuni (journalist), Patrick Mugumya (director operations),Francis Tumusiime (special project editor) and Richard Tusiime (managing director) .
It is alleged that the group through the Red Pepper newspaper published a story titled ‘Museveni plans to overthrow Kagame’, a story that the state claims disturbed the peace of President Museveni.