Critics want evidence in court against Katumba attack suspects, not hyped press conferences
Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | At a press briefing last week, Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech, the deputy Inspector General of Police, seemed to have scored a public relations coup for the police force when he broke down the arrest and killing of suspects in the attempted assassination on Gen. Katumba Wamala in June.
However it was not long before the arrested suspects showed up at the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court on July 8 showing signs of torture and grievous bodily harm at the hands of security agents while in detention. The incident appeared to take the air out of Lokech’s well-orchestrated campaign.
The torture has already been seized on by lawyers and human rights activists as a well-worn path by police while dealing with suspects.
Meanwhile, until that press conference held on July 01 and 02, it seemed almost impossible for police to apprehend notorious hit men on motorcycles that have killed a number of high ranking Ugandans in gruesome shootings.
In a surveillance operation and manhunt that stretched over three weeks since the attack, Lokech said the Police had arrested four suspects and killed some; including Hussein Wahab Lubwama aka Master.
Lokech told journalists that Master is the assassin who emerged from behind Katumba’s vehicle and positioned himself on the right side and pulled the trigger on Katumba’s daughter and driver, killing them instantly on the morning of June 1 at Kisota Road in Kisaasi, Kampala. Master was the one seen in CCTV footage dressed in a blue-striped T-shirt with a rider wearing orange outfits.
Master believed Katumba was right behind the driver at the time of the attack. New CCTV footage displayed by Lokech and his aides show the man they are calling Master and his rider whom the police chief named as Juma Sayyid starting their attack on the junction of Bahai Road in Kikaya, less than a kilometer from the would be crime scene.
Lokech said Master was well trained in martial arts and was killed as he tried to fight back at the police when they swooped on him. The police is said to have killed another suspect called Mustapha Kawawa aka Amin as his relatives were reportedly at Mulago Hospital Mortuary to pick his remains.
The trail of intelligence picked up a suspect called Juma Sserwada, a chapatti seller in Namuwongo, a busy Kampala suburb, who was allegedly handed the killer guns at some point. More interrogation of the suspects allegedly led to the final hide out of the killer guns in a poultry house in Namuwongo. Lokech displayed two Sub Machine Guns (SMGs) and one pistol.
According to Lokech, the home where the poultry house was, turned out to be that of Sayyid, the rider who was carrying Master, the key suspect. Lokech briefed the press after a long operation of the manhunt in the wee hours of the morning that took them to Kagoma, towards Luweero, Nansana and finally in Namuwongo.
Lokech also identified the other two riders as Mudinka and Kanaaba (aliases). Displaying the mug shots of the suspects and the guns to the media, Lokech appeared to be fully in charge of his investigation where he kept the identity of his operatives unknown. The detectives who displayed the guns were fully masked and donning black colors.
“The same cartridges from the lab indicate that it was the same cartridges that were used in the Kaweesi and Kiggundu killing,” Lokech, a soldier with stints as commander of Ugandan troops in South Sudan and Somalia declared. “All guns have different characteristics; they are not the same,” he added while at the briefing.