February 19, 2014. Page 71
The 21-year-old student who posted nude pictures of his former fiancée on facebook, in retaliation for being dumped by her, was Tuesday jailed six months.
Henry Alibah, who posted the nude pictures on November 25, 2013, after a 10-minute ultimatum to the complainant had elapsed, looked shaken and bewildered after he was sentenced by the Accra Circuit Court.
Covering himself with a piece of cloth to conceal his face from cameras, the convict attempted to hit at photographers but the photographers ran for cover.
Alibah pleaded guilty to the charge of causing emotional, verbal or psychological abuse, contrary to Sections 1 (b) (iv) and Section 3 (2) of the Domestic Violence Act 737/07.
Passing sentence, the presiding judge, Ms Ellen Vivian Amoah, held the view that the action of the convict was pre-meditated and thus needed to be treated with all the seriousness it deserved to serve as a deterrent to others.
Citing numerous legal authorities from both Commonwealth nations and the United States of America (USA), Ms Amoah held that revenge pornography or involuntary pornography caused incalculable damage to the reputation of victims.
According to the court, there was the need to deter others who embarrassed, caused emotional pain, anxiety and stigmatised their targets by posting nude pictures which had the potential to go viral globally immediately after posting.
Crime was pre-meditated
The victim had dated the convict for two years but ended the relationship three months ago. Alibah did not take kindly to the breakup and pleaded with the complainant to rescind her decision.
Realising she was not prepared to continue with the relationship, Alibah called her on November 25, 2013 and gave her a 10-minute ultimatum to change her mind or risk having her nude pictures posted on facebook.
He carried out the threat after the ultimatum had elapsed. He then added the caption, “Porn star, pay and f***”.
Alibah proceeded to attach his former fiancee’s mobile phone number to the uploaded picture for interested persons to call.
Taking evidence into consideration and the fact that the convict had admitted wrongdoing, the presiding judge held that it was evident his action was pre-meditated.
“He warned, waited and carried out the threat,” Ms Amoah opined, and indicated that it was important for the court to send the signal that such crimes would not be tolerated.
Describing the case as “novel but not new in other jurisdictions,” the court considered the nature of the crime, the punishment for it, the manner of the crime committed, age of the convict, being a first offender, the interest of the society, as well as the interest of the victim before passing the sentence.
Facebook, she said, had been widely used by people to connect in order to share information but indicated that others had abused it the world over by using it to intimidate and post nude and embarrassing pictures of their victims as forms of reprisals.
Cyber bullying, she indicated, was on the rise and had accordingly caused fear, scarred some victims for life, caused intimidation, emotional abuse, loss of jobs and other challenges for some other victims .
The court held that due to the immediacy with which facebook, which had 1.1 billion users in 2013, transmitted data, it was obvious the nude pictures of the complainant had been shared globally and even stored in some quarters.
Counsel for the convict, Mr Gad Cobbinah, announced his intention to appeal against the court’s decision.