Uganda: Police Brutality Suspects Deny Being At Scene

Police officers facing trial for beating supporters of Kizza Besigye in Kampala recently have raised objection to the evidence presented by the Professional Standards Unit (PSU) to pin them.

Prosecution led by Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Catherine Tushemerirwe presented Assistant Commissioner of Police, Fortune Habyara, the commander of PSU as the first witness. During cross-examination by Habyara, the officers queried the use of the news clips as evidence to incriminate them as opposed to the footage detailing the chronology of events of the day.

The commanders; Andrew Kaggwa, the regional police commander for Kampala-east; Samuel Bamuzibire, the field force police commander for Kampala Metropolitan; Moses Nanoka, the divisional police commander for Wandegeya; and Patrick Muhumuza, the field force police commander for Katwe police station were dragged before the police disciplinary court on charges of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority contrary to the Police Act.

Kaggwa tasked Habyara to explain why PSU has decided to use news clips from media houses instead of the footage produced by the police own evidence gathering team, whose mandate is to record footage of all operations.

In his response, Habyara told court that he looked at various videos and zeroed in on the one from NBS TV since it contains the most incriminating evidence against the accused.

"I chose that video because it has the best evidence, if you want, you can bring in another which will exonerate you," Habyara told Kaggwa.

Kaggwa also asked the investigator whether he had attended or was aware of the decisions and orders of the group. The orders group briefs commanders before a sensitive operation.

Bamuzimire, says he invoked the orders to beat Besigye's supporters when they began pelting officers with stones. However, Habyara shot back, saying "there was no evidence on the video to show that the victims attacked police officers. The evidence shows civilians and their pleas for mercy as well as the officers before you mercilessly clobbering people indiscriminately."

Bamuzimire, Agaba and Muhumuza had initially told court that they were not at the scene of crime but prosecution produced video clips that showed them actively engaged in the beatings at the said scenes.

Agaba says he only appeared at the scene as the RPC's bodyguard and didn't participate in the beating contrary to the video evidence that shows him beating boda boda cyclists. Bamuzimire was also seen in the video issuing orders to his juniors to beat civilians even after raising their hands as a sign of surrender.

Source: The Observer.

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