The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), has appealed against the acquittal of imprisoned Makerere University Research fellow, Dr Stella Nyanzi on the charge of offensive communication.
On August 1, 2019, Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate, Gladys Kamasanyu, found Dr Nyanzi guilty of cyber harassment before acquitting her on the second count of offensive communication in connection to harassing the president and insulting his late mother in a Facebook post.
Being dissatisfied with the lower court judgement on the second count, the DPP has opted to file an appeal at the High Court, sighting that Ms Kamasanyu failed to properly evaluate the evidence on record by arriving at the wrong conclusion by acquitting Dr Nyanzi, thus leading to miscarriage of justice.
“The learned trial magistrate erred in law and fact when she held that the Facebook post in issue was not repeated and she therefore arrived at the wrong conclusion in acquitting the respondent,” the appeal documents read in part.
“…learned trial magistrate also erred in law and fact when she stated that the appellant did not prove that the post in issue disturbed the peace, quiet or right of privacy of His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni with no purpose of legitimate communication,” the appeal reads.
Consequently, the DPP is seeking the High Court to allow this appeal, set aside and reverse the judgement of Ms Kamasanyu as well as maintain the conviction and sentence on count one of cyber harassment.
The DPP’s appeal comes at the time when Dr Nyanzi has challenged her conviction and sentence before the same court.
Dr Nyanzi who is expected to serve nine months in Luzira prison, in her appeal argues that the court did not have the jurisdiction to allow a charge that was incurably defective, unacceptably vague and barred by law.
She also complains that Ms Kamasanyu erred in law and fact when she failed to accord her (Nyanzi) the necessary facilities to compel the attendance of witnesses, and thereby infringed on her right to a fair hearing.
Dr Nyanzi adds that the magistrate failed to properly evaluate the evidence on record, thereby arriving at a wrong decision in convicting the appellant of cyber harassment.
She is now seeking the High Court to quash her conviction and the punishment set aside, stressing that the magistrate passed an illegal and disproportionate sentence.
Prosecution contended that on September 16, 2018, Dr Nyanzi posted on her Facebook page suggestions deemed obscene against the President’s deceased mother.
It is stated further that she (Nyanzi) also repeatedly posted messages to disturb or attempted to disturb the peace, quiet or right to privacy of the President.