Stella Nyanzi's 19 witnesses fail to appear in court

Dr Stella Nyanzi

Dr Stella Nyanzi

The 19 witnesses summoned to defend Makerere University researcher Dr Stella Nyanzi have failed to appear in court. 

The witnesses were supposed to appear on Wednesday to give their expert opinion in the case in which Nyanzi is charged for offensive communication and cyber harassment when she allegedly published a poem dedicated to President Museveni's mother Esteri Kokundeka. The was allegedly laced with vulgarities and insulted the peace and integrity of the president.  

The witnesses that had been lined up by the defence included; Prof Sylvia Tamale, Dr Susan Kiguli, Criminal Investigations director Grace Akullo, Dr Ronald Kakungulu Mayambala, Eng Frank Kitumba, Dr Sylvester Kahyana, Dr James Ociti, Dr Susan Kiguli, and Prof Abas Kiyimba the coordinator of gender, law and sexuality at Makerere University. 

The others are; Prof Fredrick Jjuuko, Allan Tacca, Solome Nakaweesi, Bishop Zac David Niringiye, Father Gaetano Batanyenda, Barnabas Mustapha Mugisa and Mildred Apenyo, a daughter to prosecution witness Charles Dalton Opwonya. On Tuesday, Barnabas Mustapha Mugisa, one of the 19 witnesses appeared in court but refused to testify on grounds that he was not aware of the reasons he was summoned.

Nyanzi’s lawyers Isaac Semakadde and Derrick Bazekuketta told court yesterday that they were not certain if the witnesses would appear.

They requested for a meeting with the trial magistrate, Gladys Kamasanyu and state prosecutors Timothy Amerit and Janet Kitimbo. Kamasanyu granted the defence’s request for a meeting and adjourned the proceedings for an hour.

And when court resumed, the lawyers asked court to issue arrest warrants to the witnesses for contempt of court. Bazekuketa further observed that Akullo and Mayambala were served with the summons to appear on Wednesday. 

However, Kamasanyu rejected defence’s request to issue arrest warrants to the witnesses, observing that there was no justification by the defence team. She argued that the lawyers did not present evidence to show any attempts made to serve summons to the witnesses or witnesses acknowledging recipient of the summons.

Kamasanyu adjourned court to today July 11 for the final proceedings of the case. 

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd