Popular photographer Keron Bruce, who was charged with a cybercrime over the social media cartoon character ‘Mudwata’, will go on trial from June 9 before Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman at the Diamond Golden Grove Magistrates’ Courts. Bruce is on $100,000 bail.
It is alleged that Bruce is the person behind the social media cartoon character. The Soesdyke Back Road, East Bank Demerara (EBD) resident was initially charged on April 8. He made another court appearance this morning and was served with statements.
He has pleaded not guilty to the charge which stated that he used a computer system to subject another person to public ridicule, contempt, hatred, and embarrassment to Leroy Smith, journalist and managing editor of BIG SMITH News Watch, an online media outlet.
Bruce, 35, is being represented by Attorney-at-Law Bernard DaSilva.
He was initially arrested back in January on cybercrime allegations by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown. Police are alleging that the character, through numerous social media posts, has slandered several persons.
Bruce’s arrest came shortly after Smith offered a $1M reward to anyone with credible information on the identity of the person (s) behind the animated character.
Police Headquarters said that several pieces of electronic equipment were seized from Bruce’s house including some voice messages, which when an analysis/comparison was done, matched with the ‘Mutawata’ commentary (same language).
Meanwhile, Bruce has filed a lawsuit against Mikhail Rodrigues, who is popularly known as the ‘Guyanese Critic’, in which he is seeking in excess of $101M in damages for libel.
He alleges that on January 29, 2022, Rodrigues, who was at the time vacationing in Barbados, went live on Facebook and affirmed that he, Bruce, was the person behind the social media animated character, ‘Mudwata’.
The photographer deposed that the live video attracted 761 comments, 933 reactions, 33,000 views, and was shared 91 times. He described Rodrigues as a “self-proclaimed social media influencer”, who has a Facebook following of 250,000.
Bruce, among other things, alleges that Rodrigues’ statements were false, malicious, without basis, and made for the sole purpose of increasing views, followers, reactions, financial gain, and “for his own personal clout”.
The pageant photographer has insisted that he and the ‘Mudwata’ character are not “one and the same”, and therefore, this cannot be a “matter of fact”, as is being claimed by the Guyanese Critic.
He said that none of these has been proven in a court of law and he has never been “charged with or convicted of a crime”. Bruce also said that Rodrigues’ comments have caused irrevocable damage to his reputation and brought his career into disrepute.
Bruce submitted that he is fearful for his life and has been forced to hire 24/7 security for him and his family.
Mikhail Rodrigues, also called ‘Guyanese Critic’