The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has withdrawn a case in which Red Pepper directors and editors were charged with libel, computer misuse and publication of content that is prejudicial to national security.
The cases stem from a story published in The Red Pepper issue of November 20, 2017 indicating that President Yoweri Museveni was plotting to overthrow his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.
On trial were the founding directors of Pepper Publications, the company that owns Red Pepper; Arinaitwe Rugyendo, Patrick Mugumya, Johnson Musinguzi, Richard Tusiime and James Mujuni, and editors; Ben Byarabaha, Richard Kintu and Tumusiime Francis.
They were jointly arrested on November 21, 2017, following a police raid of their offices in Namanve, along Jinja Road. They were arraigned before Buganda Road on November 27, 2017, remanded to Luzira prison after a week in detention at Nalufenya police station in Jinja and granted bail after a month in detention. Meanwhile, the company premises in Namanve were cordoned off until last month.
Today, Buganda Road Court Magistrate Samuel Kagoda closed the case after Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) lawyer Abdul Salaam Waiswa told the court he received instructions from DPP on March 15 to withdraw the case.
He told the court that the case withdrawal was influenced by an agreement entered between “the accused and the complaints.”
The accused met Museveni on January 23, 2018 who pardoned them and cautioned them against reckless reporting. The president also allowed them to resume publication of the Red Pepper and its sister products.
The Red Pepper resumed publications on January 27. For the past two months, the state prosecutor and the defense lawyer have been telling the court that reconciliation talks are ongoing.