Zambian editor convicted

The editor of the private Post newspaper has been convicted of

contempt of court for running a story on the trial of a journalist accused of

pornography over a picture showing a woman giving birth.

Fred M’membe published a story from a US-based lawyer commenting on

the trial of news editor Chansa Kabwela, who in November last year was cleared

of obscenity charges over an unpublished picture of a woman giving birth in the

street outside a hospital.

Lusaka magistrate David Simusamba convicted him of contempt for

allowing the article to run on August 27 2009, while the trial was under way.

Sentencing was set for Friday.

The photograph was taken during a doctors’ strike and highlighted

the poor state of health care in Zambia.

Although never published, Kabwela sent copies of the picture to

vice president George Kunda and women’s groups, sparking outrage in the

presidency.

Simusamba said: “The editor-in-chief is responsible for monitoring

the newspaper and in this modern world it’s possible that he can issue

instructions from anywhere and I find the editor-in-chief guilty and I convict

him accordingly.”

M’membe looked composed throughout the proceeding, listening

attentively.

The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes

lamented the ruling. The group’s executive director, Lee Habasonda, said: “This

is a dark day for the Zambian media but my appeal to them is that they should

not relent but continue working even harder.”



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