Incarcerated Makerere University researcher, Dr Stella Nyanzi has protested against the court’s order of summoning her 19 witnesses to appear and testify within just two days.
The witnesses are supposed to defend Nyanzi in the offensive communication and cyber harassment case brought against her by the state. Nyanzi, who has been on remand since November 2018, is accused of publishing a loutish poem on her Facebook page, in which, she allegedly attacked and disturbed the peace of President Yoweri Musevebni and his late mother Esteri Kokundeka.
Through her lawyer, Isaac Semakadde, Nyanzi had asked court to adjust the dates when the witnesses would appear. This is on grounds that when court presided by Buganda Road Grade One magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu issued summons for the defence witnesses to appear on Wednesday in court, the lawyers failed to trace them.
The witnesses are: Prof Sylvia Tamale, Dr Susan Kiguli, Criminal Investigations director Grace Akullo, Dr Ronald Kakungulu Mayambala, Eng Frank Kitumba, Mustapha Mugisha, Dr Sylvester Kahyana, Dr James Ociti, Dr Susan Kiguli, and Prof Abas Kiyimba the coordinator of gender, law and sexuality at Makerere University.
Others are; Prof Fredrick Jjuuko, Allan Tacca, Solome Nakaweesi, Bishop Zac David Niringiye, Father Gaetano Batanyenda and Mildred Apenyo, a daughter to prosecution witness Charles Dalton Opwonya.
Semakadde told court that they approached some of the witnesses but they told them the summons had come at a short notice and needed more time to prepare. However, Kamasanyu has insisted and ordered that all the defence witnesses appear within two days effective July 9.
This was after state prosecutors Timothy Amerit and Janet Kitimbo asked court to adjourn the matter for the last time. Semakadde says that the magistrate has not been fair to defence team from the start since prosecution spent eight months adducing evidence from only three witnesses.
Semakadde has also faulted the magistrate for issuing summons written in a language that does not communicate legal consequences should the receiver defy. He noted that the magistrate left the summons open for a witness to choose to appear or not contrary to the required legal procedures.