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State to amend charges over courtroom brawl

Publish date: 02 December 2019
Issue Number: 852
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Uganda

Uganda’s Director of Public Prosecutions has told a Kampala court that he will amend the charges against six people suspected of assaulting a magistrate. State attorney, Miriam Njuki requested a two-week postponement which was granted. New Vision reports that Simon Wanyera, Abdullah Waiswa, Augustine Ojobile, Joel Kabali, Fatuma Abenabyo and Moses Katumba are facing charges of inciting violence, contempt of court, malicious damage to property and common assault. They were arrested on 2 August following an attack on Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu who sentenced Stella Nyanzi to 18 months for cyber harassment. Their lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde urged the state to withdraw charges of common assault on grounds that ‘six people cannot all throw a bottle to a magistrate as the state alleged’. ‘We need the state to specify who did what and who said what,’ Ssemakadde noted. Bail was extended until 10 December.

Full New Vision report

Nyanzi was arrested in 2017 for defaming President Yoweri Museveni in a Facebook post, notes Legalbrief. The incident sparked an international outcry, with human rights groups condemning the act as a violation of academic freedom and freedom of expression. Amnesty International called for Uganda to drop the 'absurd charges' and Pen International also condemned her arrest. Human Rights Watch said her arrest was an indicator that 'those who express critical views of the Ugandan Government, especially the first family, can face its wrath'.