MP Rwabogo’s stalker Isiko returns to court for appeal hearing
In July, MP Sylvia Rwabogo wept in court as she narrated how Brian Isiko inundated her with love messages that she said were frightening. Isiko pleaded guilty and was sent to cool of his lust behind bars for two years
HUMAN RIGHTS | Brian Isiko’s legal team returns to High Court’s Criminal Division on Wednesday (today) to argue his appeal, with focus on proving that Buganda Road Court Grade One Magistrate Gladys Kamasanyu misconstrued his confession and sent him to jail.
Though Isiko, 25, is enjoying his bail, the student of YMCA College of Business Studies was on July 6 handed a two-year jail sentence by Kamasanyu for having sent love messages to Kabarole Woman MP Sylvia Rwabwogo.
The magistrate deemed that Isiko’s repeated texting and calls to the MP breached the cyber harassment law and amounted to offensive communication.
The notoriously chatty Kamasanyu convicted Isiko and sentenced him to two years in jail for cyber harassment and nine months for offensive communication. Both sentences were to be served concurrently.
But Isiko‘s lawyer Ramadhan Waiswa, of Katuntu and Company Advocates, intends to tell Justice Jane Frances Abodo that Kamasanyu misinterpreted their client’s confession.
According the documents filed in court, the lawyers intend to argue that Isiko only admitted to send love messages to Rwabwogo but never admitted to sending sexually offensive messages to the legislator as the magistrate ruled.
MP in tears
In July, a teary Rwabwogo had testified in court that Isiko had constantly called her and even after she blocked his number, continued to send messages.
In response, Isiko, who took a jocular approach to the case, perhaps in ignorance of the ramifications, admitted his guilt saying: “Everything she said is correct.”
But in the appeal, his lawyers accuse Kamasanyu of failing to subject the evidence tabled by the prosecution to the standards required in a criminal trial.
“The trial magistrate erred in law and fact when she relied on speculation, conjecture, malice and fear mongering to convict the appellant,” the memorandum of appeal reads in part.
Although a section of the media and social media claimed that Isiko had sent MP Rwabogo graphic video of himself, records from Kamasanyu doesn’t show anything to the effect.
The record from the magistrate’s court, which Justice Abodo is still reviewing to rely on, indicates that Isiko sent Rwabwogo a plethora of love messages, loves songs and love poems in a bid to win her heart but the MP apparently interpreted this as some form of sexual harassment.
The lawyers say it was wrong for Kamasanyu to invoke the Computer Misuse Act and hand Isiko a two-year jail sentence just because he expressed his feeling to the legislator.
Section 24 of the Computer Misuse Act which Kamasanyu used states: ‘A person who commits cyber harassment is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 72 currency points or imprisonment not exceeding three years or both.”
The case received wide publicity after it was first reported in the media, in part for its human interest but largely for the controversial ruling as the public was divided on the extent of the punishment.
Whereas some underscored that Isiko had crossed the line, they argued that serving two years in jail for expressing love was too harsh. But others said the sentence sent a strong message to men who sexually harass women.
However, MP Rwabogo had other explanations, linking Isiko to her perceived enemies who “wanted her dead” and that they were only using Isiko as a bait to draw her out.
Human rights activists as well as Pastor Martin Ssempa, took up the case and challenged the sentence, leading to the appeal before the High Court as well as Isiko’s temporary reprieve.