President Museveni yesterday told a National Resistance Movement (NRM) Parliamentary Caucus at State House Entebbe, that according to a brief he received from security, a Photojournalist, James Akena was mistaken for a petty thief before being pounced on and beaten.
Last week, during #FreeBobiWine protests in the city, Reuters Journalist James Akena was molested by soldiers before being arrested. A video shows Akena kneeling in the middle of the road, with a camera in his raised hand, while soldiers lash him from all sides of his body.
Following Akena’s ordeal, journalists’ associations and the general public condemned the manner in which the experienced photojournalist was treated prompting UPDF promise to arrest those involved.
However, while speaking to NRM MPs, Museveni said he received a brief from security agencies that Akena had been mistaken for a protestor trying to steal another journalist’s camera.
“The president said he had been briefed by security agencies that Akena was mistaken to be a petty thief and rioter trying to steal a journalist’s camera,” one of the legislators part of the caucus said on condition of anonymity.
Museveni added that he was also made aware Akena was not properly identified as a journalist and did not have a press kit to different him from rioters.
“He said the soldiers were fighting with looters and this person came to pick a camera and the soldiers thought he was one of them(looters),” the legislator added
President Museveni however acknowledged that the security agencies made some mistakes while quelling protests, he singled out a case in Mityana where people in a commuter taxi were shot at and one killed in due process while another succumbed to injuries at hospital moments later.
Museveni assured the caucus that the said officers have since been arrested and awaiting prosecution, while a team from government has been dispatched to get in contact with the families of the deceased.
“That he admitted was very wrong, he said they should have shot in the air because even the taxi was not part of the riot,” Rose Mutonyi, Bubulo West MP said.
The President promised to convene an extended interaction with the legislators at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi in September.