Buganda Road Chief Magistrate’s Court yesterday released the four police officers charged with torture of Kamwenge mayor, Mr Geoffrey Byamukama on bail, and blocked them from returning to their duty stations.
Mr Jamson Karemani, the chief magistrate feared that Assistant Superintendents of Police (ASP) Patrick Muramira and Fred Tumuhairwe, Probation Police Constables (PPC), Habib Roma and Ben Odeke might interfere with the investigations
“In the instant case the offences do not attract severe sentences and the State has not objected to the bail application. There is no antecedent of the accused jumping bail. I have considered all that and I am convinced to release the suspects on bail,” Mr Karemani said.
“…the accused persons are granted bail on condition that they should keep away from their places of work until the completion of the investigations and conclusion of the case,” Mr Karemani ruled.
Before consenting to the suspects’ bail, Karemani tasked them to provide documents from the officer in charge of the barracks confirming their residence and to either deposit passports or national identity cards in court, documents which can be used to trace them ife they jump bail.
Court also ordered ASP Muramira and ASP Tumuhairwe to pay cash bail of Shs2m each and the other accused persons (Roma and Odeke) were each granted cash bail of Shs1m.
Their sureties were each bonded at Shs50m not cash.
The four officers were charged last Friday with one count of torture contrary to Section 4 of the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Act 2012 and another charge of doing grievance harm contrary to Section 219 of the Penal Code Act.
However, the quartet denied the two charges.
Prosecution led by Mr Jonathan Muwaganya submitted that if court is to grant the suspects bail, it should give them stringent terms in a bid to prevent them from using their positions to interfere with investigations. The mayor who had been trailed by police for his alleged participation in the killing of former police spokesperson and Assistant Inspector General of Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, was arrested at the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development on April 5.
Mr Byamukama alleged that as he was being driven in a police van to Nalufenya in Jinja District, he protested and the suspects pounce on him. They allegedly severely beat him, causing serious injuries to his body.
According to the charge sheet, the policemen tortured the mayor using a baton and iron bar.
On May 11, images of Mr Byamukama with dreadful wounds laying helpless on a city hospital bed leaked, prompting the authorities to arrest the four suspects.
The public reacted with consternation, compelling the President Museveni to write to various security heads, including IGP Kale Kayihura and Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi, warning them never to subject suspects to torture.
The President advised the investigators to do their work well and patiently gather sufficient evidence.
The case resumes on June 16 for mention of the charges.