Police commanders have denied allegations that they tortured Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament, Francis Zaake during his arrest earlier this year.
Zaake dragged government to court over torture occasioned on him by six police commanders including Senior Commissioner of Police, Elly Womanya, the commandant, Police Investigations Division in Kireka, SSP Bob Kagarura, the Wamala Regional Police Commander, SP Alex Mwiine, the Mukono District Police Commander, Twesigye Hamdan , a police officer attached to SID in Kireka, Musa Walugembe, the officer in charge of SID, Kireka and one Detective Assistant Commissioner of Police, Isaac Oketcho.
However, in the defences filed separately, the six officers distanced themselves from the allegations of torturing the legislator.
“When I reached office, OC CID Mityana, D/ASP Sam Lumago brought a file and informed me that Francis Zaake had been arrested for flouting Covid-19 guidelines by distributing food in Mityana district. I called SP Walugembe and asked him to bring Zaake to my office to record a statement but I was informed that he had complained of pain in the leg,” Womanya, the SID commander said in his affidavit.
The police commander says that he sent for Zaake who was brought in a pickup and escorted by police officers to his office.
“Hon.Zaake told me he was in pain particularly in his leg. He told me he had been feeling uncomfortable since Arua. He also complained that he has problems with his eyes and that he had been beaten. I also noticed some bruises on his wrists and forehead,” the SID commander says.
The police commander says in his defence that when he inquired from the Mityana DPC about the bruises on Zaake’s body, he was told that the legislator knocked himself on the doors of the police cells and he was injured.
The SID commander also denied allegations that he participated in the torture of the legislator at Kireka, noting that since the day he was brought to his office to record a statement, he never interacted with him again.
“I didn’t return to office until Monday April,28,2020 due to sickness. I left Detective ACP Isaac Oketcho in charge and I never interacted with Hon.Zaake again.”
Musa Walugembe, the officer in charge of SID at Kireka also denied the allegations, saying he never touched the legislator.
The Wamala Region Police Commander(RPC) Bob Kagarura says that his role ended at sending a police double cabin vehicle to be used for transporting the legislator “with dignity” to Kampala.
“My role ended at the events described above. I was not involved in Zaake’s movement from Mityana to Kampala.”
In his defence, the Mityana District Police Commander, Alex Mwine said that while being transferred from the Mityana police cells to the vehicle, Zaake resisted.
“While one of Hon.Zaake’s arms was being handcuffed, he tried to resist another arm being handcuffed and in the process of trying to fight off police officers, he injured on the face with the dangling handcuff that was on one hand,” Mwine said.
The Mityana DPC says that during the entire fracas, there was no moment Zaake was beaten as is being alleged.
“I know that in the whole fracas, at no time did anybody beat Hon.Zaake or use any spray of any kind, any object or teargas against him,” Mwine says in his affidavit.
Justice Esther Nambayo of the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala has adjourned the case to September, 29,2020 for further hearing.
In his suit, MP zaake wants court to declare that the actions of the security officers were intentional and violated his right.
“The applicant wants a declaration that the intentional infliction of severe pain and suffering during his arrest and detention by the respondents or their subordinates or officers through actions or omissions including punching, kicking and pepper spraying as well as tying and forcing him to assume a fixed and stressful body position while denying him access to medication threatened his life and constituted a threat to his protection of the right to life enshrined in article 20(2) and 22 of the 1995 constitution,” the court documents say.
Zaake also wants court to declare that the actions of the police officers and military of holding him incommunicado for 10 days in several places not authorised for detention by law and without allowing him access to medical treatment of his choice.