A magistrate in Nairobi, Kenya on Monday 26th September sentenced an editor at Tuko news to six months jail or a fine of 50,000 shillings for allegedly misreporting and publishing a story over the NYS story.
Senior Principal Magistrate Eunice Nyutu sentenced him both in his capacity as an editor and his personal capacity.
In her ruling, Nyutu said the punishment would act as a deterrent to other journalists, editors and media houses would might publish misleading articles.
In the case, the court has summoned TUKO and KBC managing editors for writing a misleading story about a prosecution witness who was being cross-examined by the defense in the NYS case.
This is after the prosecution raised a complaint saying the articles had tainted the name of their witness.
She noted that the story had damaged the reputation of the prosecution witness.
Through his lawyer, the TUKO editor apologized to the court in regards to the story, saying one of their correspondents had given them the story and once they realized the error they had pulled it down.
However, the court said writing a defamatory story was punishable by law.
Tuko on their website have however stated that the journalist has been released and the court is yet to clarify the judgement.
The Kenya Union of Journalists (KUJ) has faulted the court. Responding to the sentence their Secretary General Erick Oduor said it was a blow to the quest for a just society.
He also said they would be appealing the ruling.
“Jailing a journalist in the 21st century is not only an assault on freedom of the media, which is well guarded by the constitution but a blow to the quest for a just society,” read a statement by KUJ Secretary General Erick Oduor.
“The law provides for a mechanism for parties to seek redress in the event they are aggrieved by the work of journalists to protect the Fourth Estate from such assault.
“It is incumbent on Courts to strictly adhere to these mechanisms and procedures to ensure the rule of law and democratic governance prevails,” Oduor added.
Tuko is a popular media and news website in Kenya known for their citizen journalism where they allow members of the public to submit stories on their website.