Stella Nyanzi guilty of cyber harassment, convicted

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Stella Nyanzi in court

Buganda Road Court has Thursday found former Makerere researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi guilty of cyber harassment.

Nyanzi who waived her right to bail, has been on remand for the last 8 months for offensive communication against President Yoweri Museveni.

She re-appeared before Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu without her lawyers but court still proceeded with her case.

While the magistrate convicted Nyanzi on the cyber harassment charge, she was, however, found not guilty [innocent] on the charge of offensive communication.

Victoria University

On Wednesday, High Court dismissed an application filed Nyanzi challenging the closure of her defence without an opportunity to summon defence witnesses through the public media.

High Court Judge Jane Francis Abodo threw out the application saying there was no proof of bias or unfairness tantamounting to the miscarriage of justice.

The matter is in relation to a loutish birthday poem, targeted at the President’s late mother Esteeri Kokundeka, which was posted on Stella Nyanzi’s social media pages on September 16, 2018, a day after President Museveni’s 74th birthday.

The prosecution alleges that Nyanzi used a computer to post statements crafted in vulgarity wishing that Museveni should had died at the time of his birth and that she willfully and repeatedly used electronic communication to post similar messages which disturbed the peace, quiet or right of privacy of President Museveni.

Judgement

In her ruling, the presiding magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu said Dr Nyanzi’s Facebook post “corrupts the minds of young generation” and that “…it doesn’t in anyway communicate any message… It is vulgar. It was offensive.”

Magistrate Kamasanyu presiding

Kamasanyu finds that the post lacks value and doesn’t transmit any literary or scientific message and cannot be discussed openly in any community.

“It is obscene, lewd and indecent and the wishes therein could only be put forward by an immoral person.”

She said the post corrupts the minds of young generation. It doesn’t in anyway communicate any message and can’t be used in this country or outside.

“It will offend any reasonable acceptable standards in any society. No person with sense would want to consume such content. The post was so obscene and indecent as rightly submitted by the prosecution.”

She further ruled that the post could only made by an immoral person. It could have been packaged better if it meant to communicate anything of any sense to anyone.

To her, the lewdness in the post cannot be justified in any society. “That all contents of the post are unethical and to describe a private part, nicely or negatively is unacceptable.”

“From my reading of the post it has three parts” (1., recognition of birthday 2., suggestion of wish for Espterri and 3., ideas at the end of the poem about corruption”.

She then ruled: “…accused found guilty and convicted on the charge of cyber harassment and is hereby convicted.”

She added: “…accused is found innocent on charges of offensive communication.”

Nyanzi faces a fine of Shs1.4 million or prison period not exceeding 3 years.

Prosecutors said she is first time offender and prayed for a custodial sentence because the post was about the president who is the fountain of honour and his dearest mother.

“The post was the rarest of the rare. It was a brutish attack on the person of the president and his late mother. The convict remains unregretful throughout the trial for the offense she had been found guilty of,” prosecution submitted.

Nyanzi returns to court tomorrow, Friday for sentencing.

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