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Uganda: Assaulted journalist’s exhibited video camera still missing as case drags.

This Alert was originally published by HRNJ-Uganda on February 4, 2016.

Hearing of a Wavah Broadcasting Services (WBS) television journalist, Andrew Lwanga’ assault case has taken a new twist with the emergency of ‘new things’ on the case file which needed court’s attention in chambers.

Prosecution led by Jonathan Muwaganya prayed for an adjournment in light of the new discoveries. “We have discovered issues on the file that need conferencing in chambers and discuss how to proceed in the next adjournment.” Muwaganya told a court fully packed with journalists and other well-wishers. He however did not disclose the nature of the new discoveries on the file to court presided over by the Principal Grade One Magistrate, Eremye James.

Muwaganya further informed court that the medical doctor who was supposed to appear in court for cross examination had not turned up. Meanwhile Lwanga’s damaged camera which was received and labeled by the investigating officer Moureen Angenyo and kept in the exhibits store at the Central Police Station in Kampala was missing during the last hearing on January 14, 2016, and its whereabouts remain unknown to date.

Lwanga missed attending the court session because he was experiencing severe pain and dizziness. He however was carried to court only to get the case adjourned to February 29, 2016. He told journalists at court that he can’t or walk on his own due to severe back and neck pain. A fundraising campaign has since been launched for the USD 55,000 needed for his operation in an American hospital.

Meanwhile a group of youth beat the court’s security and demonstrated at court hold placards demanding for expeditious trial of the case and occasioning justice to Lwanga and other victim journalists in Uganda. The youth called for protection of journalists while on duty.

Mwesigye, the former District Police Commander of Old Kampala Division is charged with assaulting Lwanga and maliciously damaging his camera, on January 12, 2015 as he was covering a demonstration by a group of unemployed youths in Kampala. Lwanga sustained serious injuries as a result of the beatings.

“We are deeply concerned with the manner in which police has conducted itself in this matter. The investigating officer only turned up in court after a lot of pressure was mounted upon her. We cannot rule out that the fact that the camera disappearance was intended to frustrate the case.” Said the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator, Robert Ssempala.

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