The Nyarugenge Primary Court yesterday handed various jail sentences to editors of Umuseso newspaper after they were found guilty of defaming and invading the privacy of Cabinet Affairs Minister Protais Musoni.
Charles Kabonero, the former Managing Editor of the Kinyarwanda weekly and his predecessor, Didas Gasana ,were handed one-year and six months jail sentences respectively. They were also each ordered to pay a fine of Rwf 1million.
Richard Kayigamba another journalist with Umuseeso was also sentenced to six months and a fine of Rwf 1million in a verdict that was pronounced in the absence of all defendants.
They were given eight days to pay the fine and thirty days to appeal.
The court president, Fidele Bazihana, who presided over the trial turned down a request by the prosecution to immediately arrest of the defendants on conviction.
“The prosecution requested that the court orders the imprisonment of the accused in case they lose the case. I, however did not find convincing reasons supporting that request,” he said.
Bazihana also dismissed the request by the Plaintiff calling for the weekly newspaper to be banned.
“After thorough scrutiny, I realised that there was no proof to support article 94 on which the request was based,” he said
Article 94 stipulates that, “In case an offense is convicted in accordance with Article 83 of the Law, the court shall decide for the suspension of the media organ for three months. In case of recidivism, the court may order definitive closure,”
Umuseso has previously been implicated in a court case involving the Vice Speaker of Parliament, Dennis Polisi and city tycoon, Tribert Rujugiro.
Umuseso lost the Polisi case and is next month appearing in court to appeal against the Rujugiro case which it had also lost.
When contacted, Gasana said that they would appeal against the ruling.