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Stella Nyanzi put on defence over cyber harassment

By Farooq Kasule

Added 21st June 2019 12:30 PM

While putting Nyanzi, 47, on defence, Kamasanyu noted that she looked on the impugned Facebook post allegedly made by Nyanzi and it is only fair that she is given any opportunity to defend herself.

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Dr. Stella Nyanzi. Photo/File

While putting Nyanzi, 47, on defence, Kamasanyu noted that she looked on the impugned Facebook post allegedly made by Nyanzi and it is only fair that she is given any opportunity to defend herself.

KAMPALA - The Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court has directed former Makerere University researcher Dr. Stella Nyanzi to defend herself over offensive communication and cyber harassment against President Yoweri Museveni.

On Friday, Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu ruled that the prosecution led by the court’s resident state attorney Janat Kitimbo had established a prima-facie case against her through its three witnesses adduced in court.

“I’m aware that at this stage, it does not matter whether the prosecution has adduced sufficient evidence against the accused to secure a conviction of not but on the face of it, essential ingredients on each count has been proved warranting the accused to defend herself,” Kamasanyu ruled.

While putting Nyanzi, 47, on defence, Kamasanyu noted that she looked on the impugned Facebook post allegedly made by Nyanzi and it is only fair that she is given any opportunity to defend herself.

The prosecution witnesses included city lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya and Police officers Bill Ndyamuhaki and Harriet Kenyana.

Following the ruling, Nyanzi through her lawyers Isaac Ssemakadde and Derrick Bazekuketta asked the court for an adjournment to decide the next step regarding the case.

“Your Worship, following this ruling, we request for a shorter adjournment to enable us to get further instructions from our client,” Ssemakadde submitted in the fully packed courtroom.

Ssemakadde also requested the record of proceedings ever since the trial commenced to enable his client to make her defence.

He disclosed that they have a number of witnesses willing to defend Nyanzi but they will only produce seven witnesses in court.

Nyanzi appeared happy before the court despite the fact that she has been on remand since November last year.

The case has been adjourned until June 26 when she is slated to begin her defence in the matter.

The charge

The prosecution alleges that on September 16, 2018, Nyanzi posted on her Facebook page indecent words against the President and his late mother Esteeri Kokundeka.

According to the state, the said posts were intended to disturb their peace and right to privacy.

On April 10, 2017, Nyanzi was also charged in the same court with the same offences but her trial never kicked off.

The law

Under the law, any person who willfully and repeatedly uses electronic communication to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty-four currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both.

In regard to cyber harassment, a person who willfully, maliciously and repeatedly uses electronic communication to harass another person and makes a threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety or to a member of that person’s immediate family commits the crime of cyberstalking and is liable to a fine or imprisonment term not exceeding five years or both. 

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