MEDIA - First independent is renowned as the most criticising newspaper to government. It’s owned by the Rwanda Independent Media Group (RIMEG) which also runs the Newsline and Champion as sister papers.
Rimeg was formed in 1998, Newsline in 1999 and a year later Umuseso started.
The co-founders of Rimeg were John Eddie Mugabi, Assuman Bisika, Kazimiri Kayumba, Christopher Kayumba and Shaka Kanuma.
February, 1999 John Mugabi, first editor-in-chief of Newsline, was summoned by the Prosecutor General’s office over defamation.
On May 21st, 1999 he was freed on bail. A year later, John Mugabi and Shyaka Kanuma, a journalist at the same paper at the time, were summoned again by the Prosecutor General and held for two days.
In May 2001, John Mugabi, a managing editor of Newsline, which gave rise to Umuseso, sought asylum to Netherlands where he stays currently.
In 2002, Three Umuseso journalists were imprisoned for two weeks, charged with “inciting division and discrimination.”
In January 22, 2003 Ismail Mbonigaba, editor of umuseso, was detained and charged with “inciting division and discrimination.”
On January 24, Mbonigaba was remanded to Kigali’s Central Prison.
On February 27, he was released because of procedural errors in his arrest and detention.
In November 19, 2003 police arrested five Umuseso journalists and driver who included Robert Sebufirira, Kalisa McDowell, Furaha Mugisha, Emmanuel Munyaneza and Charles Kabonero and Nassan Budeyi.
They were interrogated about an article in the seized edition of the newspaper, which questioned why certain senior army officers were being demobilized.
On February 27, 2004 Sebufirira and McDowell, editor and deputy editor, fled Rwanda with their driver, Nassan Budeyi and they are now living in Canada and Sweden respectively.
In February, 2004, Charles Kabonero and Furaha Mugisha became the Editor and deputy editor respectively of RIMEG.
November 16, 2004 Kabonero was tried on criminal charges of defamation and “divisionism” in connection with an article that accused parliamentary Vice President Denis Polisi of plotting to seize power.
On November 23, Kabonero was acquitted of a criminal charge of ethnic “divisionism,” but convicted of defamation and insulting a public official. He averted a prison sentence, but was ordered to pay a fine of 8,500 Rwandan francs (US$15) and symbolic damages of 1 franc to parliamentary Vice President Denis Polisi.
On March 22, 2005, Prosecution appealed the verdict; an appeal court upheld Kabonero’s conviction on defamation charges and stiffened the sentence, imposing a one-year suspended jail term.
December, 18, Reporters Furaha Mugisha and Kadafi Rwango claim were attacked by six knife-wielding assailants as they were leaving a Kigali night club (Sky hotel).
On January 1, 2005, Kadafi fled to neighbouring Tanzania with another Umuseso reporter, Didas Gasana.
September, 2007, prosecution levelled seven charges against RIMEG editors.
5, October, 2007, Prosecution Drops Charges Against RIMEG Editors.
23, October, 2007, Rwanda Independent Media Group (Rimeg) suspended its publications indefinitely.
Compiled BY GODWIN AGABA