Radio chief questioned over failed coup, refugees contract Cholera

Innocent Muhozi addressing the press after his court appearance

Innocent Muhozi addressing the press after his court appearance

Innocent Muhozi, the Director of Radio-Television Renaissance today became the first media manager to appear before a Bujumbura court in connection with the outlet’s role in the failed coup of May, 2015.

For about 5 hours before the Deputy Public Prosecutor, Muhozi was interrogated about providing airtime to renegade Major General Godefroid Niyombare, the leader of the failed plot against President Pierre Nkurunziza.

“The hearing concerned the message read by Major-General Godefroid Niyombare on May 13 through Radio-Television Renaissance. The deputy Public prosecutor wanted to know whether there is a link with the coup plot,” Muhozi told press after his appearance.

Muhozi, however said he was just questioned about his decision to sanction broadcast of the coup message and that he was not charged of any crime.

The Director the told the court his media house broadcast the message for merely professional reasons.

The hearing took place as Managers of the other remaining three banned outlets; Radios Isanganiro, Bonesha and RPA, as well as some of their staff members are on the run, fearing for their security.

Since the breakout of protests again President Nkurunziza, these four outlets have been subjected to attacks, closure, destruction, harassment, arson and all kinds of threatsa t the hands of government security forces.

Radio Isanganiro computer shattered by security forces when the broke into the studio

Radio Isanganiro computer shattered by security forces when the broke into the studio

Representatives and employees of these outlets says after broadcasting the protests live, their licenses were revoked and their airwaves cut. They were briefly reopened in the course of the failed coup only to be shut again shortly after the government regained control

These radios are still banned and the Burundi Public Prosecutor has ordered the police to restrict access to their respective premise citing pending investigations into their connection with the failed coup plot.

Journalist covering the protests are being targeted the police, and protestors.

The government accuses foreign as well as local press of overcovering the protests instead of focusing on other ‘important issues’ like the continuing election campaigns.

Moreover, Richard Giramahoro, Chairman, National Council of Communication, the media governing body in Burundi, has accused foreign journalists of “obstructionism” and getting in the way of security forces as they battle protestors.

In a press conference held Thursday May 21, Mr Giramahoro could not however, give clear guidelines on how and where journalists should be positioned in their coverage without impeding security forces’ job.

He also pleaded with both protesters and security agents, as well as local administrators, to respect all journalists in their duties, regardless of the media for which they are working.

Meanwhile, protests are continuing in Bujumbura, and Burundian are still fleeing their homeland, today United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees announced 3,000 of the 70,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania have contracted Cholera and 30 of them have died. The UN refugee agency also warns more people will contract the deadly disease in the coming days.