Kibwetere report points to police laxity

Fourteen years since more than 1,000 people were burnt in a church that belonged to the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God in Kanungu District, a Parliamentary committee that probed the massacre has ruled that the government must complete several investigations it launched to “forestall the subsisting anxiety”.

In a draft report obtained by the Daily Monitor, the Committee also points to a possible laxity on the part of the government as the police, acting on a complaint from a citizen about dubious activities that were being carried out by the Joseph Kibwetere group, curiously flagged off the sect as an NGO.
The Committee further rejected compensation and resettlement demands by the bereaved, recommending reparation can only be on “compassionate grounds” because “adult victims of the inferno were not forcefully conscripted.”

“The rationale for compassionate assistance is that some of the victims of the inferno included minors and others who had been driven into poverty by the treachery of the cult leaders,”the committee ruled.
Following the killings, the government blamed cult leaders led by the mysterious Joseph Kibwetere and launched a Judicial Commission of Inquiry and a police probe.

The pressure for a report
A demand for the government to release reports from the two inquiries was at the gist of a petition by the orphans of the killings tabled before Parliament in 2012, triggering a probe by the Defence and Internal Affairs committee. The report is yet to be tabled and approved by Parliament.
However, Internal Affairs minister Gen Aronda Nyakairima, state minister for Internal Affairs, Mr James Baba told the committee that they are not aware of the judicial inquiry or its report.

For the police report, Gen. Kale Kayihura, the police chief, told the Committee that inquiries into the inferno are still “pending”.
The committee established that prior to the killings, there was a complaint by Mr Conrad Baryamwisaki to Police and President Museveni that was not followed through.

Mr Baryamwisaki alerted the police through John Okumu,then a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police, who doubled as a Private Secretary to the President responsible for CID Affairs.
The Committee heard that Mr Okumu directed Mr Patrick Mugizi, the Rukungiri DPC,to probe the activities of the group and in a February 5, 2000 response, police cleared the Kibwetere group arguing that “the activities of the sect was not illegal and was registered as an NGO”
However, on March 5, a month after, the government blamed the same cult for the killings.

An inquiry launched to determine whether there was neglect of duty on the DPC’s part did not get approval from the DPP who ruled that there was no evidence to support the claims.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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