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Suspects in Uganda police murder claim they were tortured

The Kaweesi murder scene. Thirteen are in Luzira accused of masterminding the crime.

 

Kampala, Uganda | AFP |  Thirteen men accused of involvement in the murder of high-ranking police officer Andrew Kaweesi and two aides appeared in court Friday, with some claiming they had been tortured while in detention.

Some of the suspects were limping heavily as they arrived at the magistrates’ court in the capital Kampala, and proceeded to display injuries they said were the result of police torture.

Ahmad Senfuka Shaban, 30, a school teacher in Mukono, removed his shirt to show what appeared to be fresh injuries to his back, chest and left arm.

In the dock another suspect told the magistrate judge, Noah Ssajjabi, that he and his co-accused had been held at the Nalufenya police station, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the capital, where they had been tortured.

Outside the court relatives of the accused wept as the men hobbled into police vehicles under heavy guard.

Abdul Hamid Shaban Senfuka, Shaban’s brother, said the two had managed to speak briefly in the small courtroom.

“He said police poured boiling water on him, as well as acid. They beat him with cables and put electricity on his private parts,” the 27-year old car mechanic told AFP.

“He’s innocent,” he insisted. “He had nothing to do with Kaweesi’s death. They took him because he is a Muslim and there had been a disagreement in the community about his school.”

When asked about the torture allegations, Uganda police spokesman Asan Kasingye told AFP, “I don’t have that information,” adding that the magistrate had the power to order an enquiry.

“But without that order we cannot investigate these allegations because it is before the courts not the police,” Kasingye said.

Kaweesi, the assistant inspector general of police, was shot dead outside his home in a Kampala suburb on March 17 by heavily armed men on motorbikes.

His driver and his bodyguard were also killed in the attack.

Kaweesi’s murder resembles the assassinations of other high-profile legal and military personnel in Uganda which remain unsolved.

The magistrate ordered that the men be transferred to Luzira Prison in Kampala until their next hearing on 18 May.

The 13 suspects were arrested last month and are charged with “terrorism, murder and aggravated theft”.

Kaweesi oversaw the brutal police oppression of an opposition protest movement in 2011.

Last August he was appointed the chief police spokesman and became a well-known figure to the public, appearing regularly in the local media.

 

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