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Court declines to summon Museveni in Stella Nyanzi case

By Farooq Kasule

Added 2nd July 2019 09:22 AM

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

Court declines to summon Museveni in Stella Nyanzi case

Dr Stella Nyanzi pictured in the dock (File Photo)

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

CYBER HARASSMENT  COURT

KAMPALA-Buganda Road Chief Magistrate's Court has declined to issue witness summons to President Yoweri Museveni in the cyber harassment and offensive communication charges against former Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi.

Last week, Nyanzi through her lawyers Isaac Ssemakadde and Derrick Bazekuketa had requested the court to summon 20 witnesses including Museveni as defence witnesses.

However, Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu on Monday ruled that the President cannot be subjected to any court proceedings while still in office and summoning him amounts to the breach of the Constitution.

"It breaches the Constitution of this mighty country to summon the President to this court. Witness summons will be issued to the rest of the 19 witnesses but not to the president," Kamasanyu ruled.

Kamasanyu noted that the sitting President is a competent witness but not a compellable one and court cannot issue summons compelling him to appear before it.

"The president may, however, appear voluntarily if he so wishes, but this court shall not summon him because it is against the law and the constitution of this mighty country Uganda. Therefore your application is hereby ruled out," Kamasanyu said.

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

The magistrate also dismissed an application in which Nyanzi wanted her to disqualify herself from the trial over bias.

She ruled that Nyanzi failed to demonstrate the allegations of bias against her.

Nyanzi opts to remain silent

Meanwhile, Nyanzi who has been on remand since November last year has opted to remain silent on the charges against her and invited court to rely on the evidence from her witnesses to exonerate her.

"We want to make it clear that the prisoner in the dock opts to remain silent throughout the trial but will defend herself through her witnesses," Bazekuketa submitted as Nyanzi looked on.

The case was adjourned to July 3 for defence hearing.

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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