VIDEO: Implicated police officers to explain torture before press

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Upset by false official accounts amid mounting public criticism over torture of civilians, the police leadership has resolved to parade before journalist implicated officers to explain in person the torture of suspects.

Police spokesman Asan Kasingye said yesterday that subjecting individual errant officers to account for their actions would bring sanity and redeem the police image currently smudged by grisly images of torture marks on suspects incarcerated over the death of ex-police spokesman Andrew Felix Kaweezi.

Kaweesi, his body guard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Wambewo were killed in a hail of bullets on March 17 in the city suburb of Kulambiro. In the aftermath, suspects held by police have endured physical assaults and, in some cases, limped to court with exposed wounds.

In the most chilling of sights, leaked images showed Kamwenge Mayor Geoffrey Byamukama, whom police arrested and kept incommunicado since March, rotting away at Nakasero Hospital in Kampala with deep wounds to both knees and ankles.
The gory pictures stirred public anger and pushed police to announce the arrest of three of its implicated officers it said would be tried for torture.

The Anti-torture Act assigns criminal responsibility for individuals, meaning a person, even if acting in official capacity, can be prosecuted in their private capacity.
“In police, we are trained to interrogate suspects, but torturing them is out of the investigation procedure,” said Mr Kasingye, who, initially denied Mr Byamukama had been tortured only to make a U-turn when graphic photos emerged to provide incontrovertible evidence.

At yesterday’s press conference at police headquarters in Naguru, a Kampala suburb, Mr Kasingye said a detective does not “need to torture a suspect to make him admit or gather evidence that connects him to the crime”.

Tortured.   One of the suspects in the murder

Tortured. One of the suspects in the murder of former police spokesperson Andrew Felix Kaweesi displays torture marks allegedly inflicted on him by police officers recently. PHOTO BY ABUBAKER LUBOWA

More than a dozen people have been charged in court and remanded to Luzira prison for allegedly killing Kaweesi, his driver and guard. Quite curiously, Mr Byamukama, who has suffered most visible injury, is not among those arraigned in court. Police have suggested he likely killed another person, but never named his victim.

The Force’s official version is that Mr Byamukama, who was picked up from Ministry of Lands headquarters on April 5, was involved in a scuffle with two police officers who arrested him after it became clear he was being taken elsewhere and not police headquarters in Naguru as communicated at the time of his arrest.

The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, who ordered that Mr Byamukama be taken to Nakasero Hospital for treatment, last week also ordered for the arrest of four police officers including Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Patrick Munanura, ASP Fred Tumuhirwe, Sgt Tumukunde and Constable Ronnie Byenkya, who are suspected to have tortured Mr Byamukama.

“You must come out and tell the public who told you to torture the suspect. We also clean our Force of people who take the law in their own hands,” Mr Kasingye said yesterday in a desperate move to protect his integrity and that of the police.

Police yesterday returned Mr Byamukama to Nakasero Hospital for review and announced that he will be returning to the hospital after every two days.

Wounded suspects
Mr Kasingye said police was also interrogating police officers who reportedly received and detained wounded suspects without following the standard operational procedures.

Police officers are prohibited from detaining wounded suspects and encouraged to get statements from any person who brings a suspect for detention.

Five of the 13 suspects being prosecuted over Kaweesi’s killing claimed they were first tortured by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence before being transferred to police at the infamous Nalufenya detention centre.

“Our procedures are that when someone brings a suspect, an officer on duty has to establish whether the suspect was brought in good condition. The person who has brought [the suspect] must make a statement,” Mr Kasingye said.

Police worried
In another development, police have expressed concern over refugees allegedly engaged in arms smuggling and cattle rustling. Police said some people from South Sudan pose as refugees, but are cattle thieves who sell the animals across the border.

Police have discouraged Ugandans from going to Juba without security escort from Uganda or South Sudan as they are a target of different rebel groups. Last week, two Ugandans from Arua District were abducted and killed by suspected South Sudan rebels on the Nimule-Juba highway.

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