Masaka, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Suspects arrested in relation to the new spate of killings in the Masaka sub-region have pinned the security personnel for torturing them from the military detention where they were taken shortly after their arrest. The group was detained at Kasijjagirwa mechanized brigade based in Masaka.
The two groups of suspects who were on Wednesday afternoon aligned before the Masaka Grade One and Chief Magistrate courts accused security operatives of torturing them to accept the offences preferred against them.
Issa Ssebunya and Ashraf Kayiza, who were among a group of four suspects who appeared before Charles Yeteise, the Masaka Chief magistrate opened out that they were badly beaten. Ssebunya told the court that he has since developed difficulty in breathing having been subjected to severe beating in the chest.
“Your worship, I have spent almost a week inside Kasijjagirwa barracks, undergoing torture. The soldier could come, beat us forcing us to accept the offences,” Ssebunya narrated his ordeal to court shortly after murder charges were read to him.
Hardly had he completed his narration than Kayiza also raised his hand, asking the Magistrate to allow him to say something to the court. He also lamented how he was brutally arrested and beaten for the days he has been in the hands of soldiers.
According to the prosecution led by Richard Birivumbuka, the Masaka Resident Chief Attorney, the suspects, together with Henry Kaboyo, Joseph Kayabula, Moses Kaganda Twesigye, and Batista Mutabaazi were picked from Byanjiri village in Lwengo in relation to three murders. The prosecution alleges that the suspects killed Paul Ggaliwango, Ibrahim Ssebwana and Ronald Katende in cold blood, on August 16, this year.
Their ordeal comes shortly after President Yoweri Museveni condemned torture as a method of security to interrogate and extract evidence from suspects. Museveni directed security organs to instead exhaust scientific methods of investigation other than torture whose evidence is not permissible during court trials.
Conversely, in the same court, another set of five suspects was also paraded in relation to the murders that have occurred in different villages within Masaka in the recent past. These included Sulaiman Kakooza picked from Ssenya village and Tadeo Kiyimba of Ssentaala who were charged on the same file for allegedly killing Francis Mugerwa Kizza alias Nswa and attempting to murder Ronald Ssebwato at Ssetaala village, Kimanya-Kabonera in Masaka city.
But the suspects denied knowing each other and accused the security of framing them.
“My lord I want to let known that I barely know the person with whom I have been charged on the same offence. How can I commit a crime with someone I don’t know?” Kakooza asked. However, the Chief Magistrate cut him short, indicating that his court lacks jurisdiction to pay attention to their plea or submissions.
Similarly, the Masaka Grade One Magistrate Grace Wakooli also read murder charges to another group of four suspects. These are Justus Nabaasa, Isaac Tusiime, Isma Nsamba and Peace Kyalisiima. The prosecution says that the four connived in the murder of Elias Kiweewa of Mirembe village, Kyazanga in Lwengo district. The two courts remanded all the 15 suspects to Ssaza prison in Masaka city until September 15.
In a period of five weeks, the greater Masaka sub-region has registered a total of 30 people who have been mysteriously murdered in cold blood in almost a similar manner. But on Monday this week, the State Minister for Internal Affairs General David Muhoozi said that they have so far arrested 69 people in relation to the incidents.