Senator Moses Wetangula. PHOTO/COURTESY
By Our Reporter
Presidential hopeful Moses Wetang’ula has a case against the BBC, a court has ruled in Nairobi,Kenya. The Bungoma senator who also obtained a gag order against the broadcaster has sued for defamation.
A judge ruled that he had established an arguable case for determination since a report that linked him to corruption held his repute in jeopardy.
“It is clear at this stage that the reputation of the applicant is held in jeopardy, Justice Beatrice Thuranira said but added that “proof” to be determined in the hearing.
She said the case met the threshold for a hearing and asked parties to get dates at the registry for a pre-trial mention.
She reiterated that “freedoms are not absolute” and dismissed opposing evidence that had been presented in the interlocutory proceedings by two BBC staff.
“Third parties may have used the applicant’s authority without his knowledge to gain benefit,” the judge ruled.
She said that an e-mail that tallied with that of a bodyguard of Mr Wetang’ula was not an appropriate basis to link him to a corruption scandal.
“Just mentioning a name does not necessarily connect the applicant with a bribery scandal, it is clear that at this stage that the reputation of the applicant was in jeopardy,” she said.
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Nelson Mandela once said: “A critical, independent, and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favor. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”
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