The defence lawyers in the case of State Prosecutor, John Bosco Mutangana against vernacular tabloid Umuvugizi, have questioned the legality of bringing their client before the Kagarama Court of Lower Instance.
There was drama in court on Friday, as the lawyers led by Claudine Gasarabwe questioned the circumstances under which their client John Bosco Gasasira was being brought before court.
The paper was dragged to court by Mutangana over a story it ran that he deemed defamatory and an invasion of his privacy.
The four defence lawyers representing Gasasira, the author of the article argued that the prosecution had not followed the law when it filed the law suit against their client.
This follows a similar incidence in the same case when on September 9 the accused and his lawyers declined to proceed with the presiding Judge, Janvier Muhire.
A different judge presided over Friday’s hearing.
“Honourable judge, before we begin this trial, we are concerned of barriers in this case which makes us believe our client was denied his rights,” Gasarabwe said.
The defence lawyers maintained that their client was never given a chance to express himself before a lawsuit was filed against him.
“By law, if someone is accused of a crime, police will record his/her statement to give equal rights of expression.
The same applies to when the file goes to the prosecution but what we find in this file indicates that a law suit was filed to the court before interrogating our client,” Gasarabwe challenged.
The defence lawyer showed the court different dates proving that the law suit against their client was filed before recording his (Gasasira’s) statement.
“These people are just against me. I think they want revenge. What I wrote was not my opinion, I was reporting,” Gasasira told the court.
The four lawyers include Janvier Rwagatare and two who are Cameroonian lawyers registered with Lawyers Without Boarders.
The prosecution, quoting article 22 of the Penal Code procedures, maintained that in filing the lawsuit against Gasasira, they had followed the law to the latter.
“What the defence has said is aimed at confusing the court and dodging the trial. The article we have just read gives powers to the police and prosecution to do their work and file a lawsuit in a circumstance like this,” prosecution argued.
Prosecution wondered why Gasasira never gave a chance to its clients to publish an erratum as provided for by the Media Law yet he was also requested by the Media High Council to do so.
“Defamatory stories like these are followed by complaints which demand erratum of which the Media High Council advised Gasasira after receiving complaints of the scandalous article.
But he ignored the advice,” Mutangana’s lawyer, Angella Buzayire, said.
The trial which was postponed to October 7.