Tanzanian investigative journalist Erick Kabendera arrives at the Kisutu Residents Magistrate Court in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania August 19, 2019. REUTERS/Emmanuel Herman
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – A Tanzanian court on Thursday postponed the hearing for the seventh time of a prominent Tanzanian journalist arrested in July in a case his lawyers and rights group say is politically motivated.
Erick Kabendera, a Dar es Salaam-based journalist who has reported for prominent international publications, was charged in August with leading organised crime, failing to pay taxes and money laundering.
A judge at Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court postponed the case until Nov. 20. As at all of the other hearings since August, the prosecutor told the court that his investigations were not complete, while Kabendera’s lawyers called for the process to move forward given that their client was being held on charges that are not bailable.
The judge handling the case was recently promoted to another court and a new judge has not been permanently assigned to the case.
The journalist is being held at the Segerea prison, a maximum-security facility on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. In August he told the court that he has difficulty breathing and felt numbness in one of his legs. The court ordered that he receive medical treatment, but Kabendera said at another hearing last month that his health was deteriorating. [L5N2631J4]
Rights groups say freedom of the press and other rights have dramatically deteriorated in the East African nation since the 2015 election of Magufuli.
His administration has suspended some media publications and websites, arrested opposition politicians and restricted political rallies. The government rejects the criticism.
Reporting by Nuzulack Dausen; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Alex Richardson