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Stella Nyanzi demands High Court review in cyber case  

By Farooq Kasule

Added 19th July 2019 07:00 AM

Nyanzi and her lawyers Isaac Ssemakadde and Derrick Bazzekuketa accuse the trial Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu of bias.

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Dr Stella Nyanzi. Photo/File

Nyanzi and her lawyers Isaac Ssemakadde and Derrick Bazzekuketa accuse the trial Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu of bias.

KAMPALA - Former Makerere University research fellow Dr. Stella Nyanzi who is battling charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication against President Yoweri Museveni has petitioned the high court seeking review in the case.

Nyanzi who has been on remand since November last year filed the application at the Criminal Division of the high court registry through Center for Legal Aid lawyers on Thursday.

Nyanzi and her lawyers Isaac Ssemakadde and Derrick Bazzekuketa accuse the trial Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu of bias.

Mary Ikit, the deputy registrar of the Criminal Division of the high court has since directed the Buganda Road Court to forward the file together with original certified copies of the proceedings and exhibits for review with immediate effect.

On Tuesday, Kamasanyu closed the case without Nyanzi’s defence, noting that she had failed to produce her witnesses despite several court reminders.

“Court is aware that the accused is at liberty to call witnesses to defend herself. However, this is the seventh time the matter is coming up for defence hearing but in vain. Therefore, the court takes it that the accused has no witness and it is left with no choice but to close the case,” Kamasanyu ruled.



She then set July 23 when the prosecution is expected to make its final submissions in the matter and the judgment is due on August 1.

Nyanzi was last month ordered to defend herself against the allegations but she opted to remain silent and summon witnesses to defend her.

This was after the prosecution led by Janat Kitimbo produced three witnesses in court including city lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya who implored Nyanzi to refrain from obscene and vulgar posts, noting that they are not good for public consumption and against Buganda culture.

“I was an admirer of Nyanzi’s poetic style of writing but I was shocked on September 21, 2018, to find an obscene post on her wall,” Opwonya testified.

Nyanzi listed over 20 witnesses including President Yoweri Museveni who is said to be the complainant in the matter.  

Others were Criminal Investigations Director (CID) Grace Akullo, Dr. Ronald Kakungulu Mayambala, Eng. Frank Kitumba, Mustapha Mugisha, Dr. Sylvester Kahyana, Dr. James Ociti, Dr. Susan Kiguli, and Prof. Abas Kiyimba.

Dr. Sylvia Tamale, the coordinator of gender, law and sexuality at Makerere University, Prof. Fredrick Jjuuko, Allan Tacca, Solomy Nakaweesi, Bishop Zac David Niringiye, Fr. Gaetano Batanyenda and Mildred Apenyo, a daughter of city lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya.

However, the court declined to summon the President, saying a president cannot be compelled to appear before it.

Article 98(4) of the Constitution states that the president shall not be liable to any proceedings in any court while still in office.

It is only Bernabus Mustapha Mugisa, a private certified hacking forensic investigator who appeared in court but declined to testify in the matter, saying he does not understand the case.

The offence of cyber harassment elicits a maximum sentence of three-years- imprisonment on conviction, while offensive communication one-year jail term.

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.

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