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Monitor reporter cleared of libel

 

By JAMES OWICH
Daily Monitor
Posted Tuesday, April 23 2013 at 01:00

Gulu Chief Magistrate’s Court has dismissed a case in which a Daily Monitor reporter has been facing charges of criminal libel for the last four years.

Magistrate Praff Rutakirwa dismissed the case against Mr Moses Akena yesterday following failure by the government to institute judges of the Supreme Court, absence of the complainant and witnesses since inception.

“If the State wishes, they can reinstate it,” Mr Rutakirwah said.

State lawyer Innocent Obale did not object to the decision. Mr Patrick Doii, Mr Akena’s lawyer, said the magistrate’s decision was satisfactory. “The magistrate is alive to the plight and pains that litigants go through. Always coming to court yet the complainants are absent,” he said.

Mr Moses Odokonyero of Northern Uganda Media Club welcomed the acquittal. “There are some people who drag journalists to court not to seek for redress but to make their work very difficult. We are happy about the ruling,” Mr Odokonyero said.

Mr Akena, also a reporter for Daily Monitor’s sister media house NTV, was elated by the decision.

“For the last four years, I have painstakingly been reporting to court at the expense of my work. It is my pleasure that justice has finally been done,” he said.

Hearing of the case had failed to kick-off, four years after Mr Akena was charged in August 2009 alongside former Gulu speaker Patrick Oola Lumumba. This latest decision follows the December dismissal of similar charges against Monitor Political Editor Henry Ochieng, and Angelo Izama, a former senior reporter by Makindye Grade One Magistrate Flavia Nabakooza.

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