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Tanzanian acquits three journalists for sedition

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

A Tanzanian court acquitted three journalists Wednesday charged with publishing a seditious article against the East African country's government two years ago for lack of evidence.

"The prosecution has miserably failed to prove its case. I hereby acquit the accused persons," magistrate Warialwande Lema said.

The three were prosecuted in November 2011 for writing an article in which they said the police backed the ruling party at the expense of the opposition, which the prosecution claimed was a call to the police not to recognise the authority of the government.

The three were Samson Mwigamba, who had worked at the newspaper Tanzania Daima (Tanzania Forever), his editor Absalom Kibanda and Theophil Makunga of the publishing business Mwananchi Communication.

"We thank the court for proving that journalists are free to express their views for the purpose of educating members of the public," Kibanda said, speaking after the verdict Wednesday. "This is our duty, and we must do it without fearing anybody."

The Committee to Protect Journalists warned last year that journalists in Tanzania face increasing threats and lack government protection.

Kibanda, in an incident unrelated to his trial, was last year attacked by unknown assailants at his house, in which he was blinded in one eye and had part of a finger hacked off.

Tanzania's ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Revolutionary Party) has been in power for decades.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140129/tanzanian-acquits-three-journalists-sedition