Trial date set for photographer accused of being ‘Mudwata’
A trial date has been set for the man accused of being behind the social media cartoon character ‘Mudwata’.
Photographer Keron Bruce, 35, of 295 Soesdyke Back Road, East Bank Demerara (EBD), will go on trial for a cybercrime offence from June 9 before Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman at the Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrates’ Courts.
Bruce, who is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Bernard Da Silva, made another court appearance on Friday, and was served with statements. Bruce was arrested and subsequently charged after Journalist Leroy Smith alleged that he was being attacked by the cartoon character.
It is alleged that on January 25, 2021, at Soesdyke, EBD, Bruce used a computer system to disseminate information about Smith, knowing same to be false. Police are alleging that the information subjected Smith to public ridicule, contempt, hatred, and embarrassment.
Back in January, Police arrested Bruce and several other persons on allegations of the cartoon character slandering persons. Police Headquarters said that ranks seized several pieces of equipment from Bruce’s DD Eccles, EBD home. In addition, several voice messages were also collected, which, when analysed, matched with the ‘Mudwata’ commentary.
His arrest came days after Smith, owner and managing editor of the online media outlet Big Smith News Watch, offered a $1 million reward for reliable information that would lead to the proper identification of the cartoon character. Smith had made this offer after a video aggressively attacking him was posted by ‘Mudwata’ on Facebook and YouTube.
After Bruce’s arrest, Smith had stated that several persons had come forward with information about the cartoon character. As such, a court order was issued to search Bruce’s house for any evidence that would pin him to the character.
The Police are obliged under the provisions of the Cyber Crime Act 2018 – a legislation that was passed under the previous APNU/AFC Government – to investigate any report made with respect to cyberbullying.
In February, Bruce filed a $101 million libel suit against Mikhail Rodrigues, better known as the ‘Guyanese Critic’, whom he has accused of slandering him.
In that lawsuit, filed at the Demerara High Court, Bruce claims that, on January 29, Rodrigues, via a Facebook Live which attracted 761 comments, 933 reactions, 33,000 views, and 91 shares, made several false and defamatory statements about him being the person behind ‘Mudwata’.
Maintaining that he and the ‘Mudwata’ character are not “one and the same”, Bruce said Rodrigues had not presented any credible evidence to the contrary, and therefore this could not be a “matter of fact”, since this had not been proven in a court of law.
Bruce alleged that Rodrigues’s utterances were for the sole purpose of increasing views, financial gains, followers, reactions, and for his own personal clout. According to Bruce, Rodrigues’s comments have caused irrevocable damage to his reputation, and have subjected him to public ridicule, contempt, hatred and embarrassment, and have also brought his career into disrepute.
Bruce told the High Court that he is so fearful for his life that he has hired a 24-hour security service to protect himself and his family, because Rodrigues has threatened to “show up” at his home and go live on Facebook.
Apart from monetary award for damages, Bruce is asking the court to order Rodrigues to publish, or cause to be published, an apology to him. He is also seeking a permanent injunction restraining Rodrigues from publishing, or causing to be published, the posts or similar words which are defamatory to him. (G1)