Police officers facing trial for beating the supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye in Kampala last week have raised objection to the evidence presented by the Professional Standards Unit-PSU to pin them.
The officers were dragged before the Police Disciplinary court on charges of with unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority contrary to section 44(1) code 24B of the Police Act and discreditable or irregular conduct contrary to 44(1) code 12 of the same act.
They are the Kampala South Metropolitan Police Commander, SSP Andrew Kaggwa, the Kampala Metropolitan Operations Commander, SSP Samuel Bamuzimire, Katwe Police Operations Commander Assistant Superintendent of Police, Patrick Muhumuza and Wandegeya Division Police Commander- Moses Nanoka. The junior officers are Police Constable (PC) Willy Kalyango, Osula Kato, Moses Agaba, Bennet Muhangi, Robert Wanyala and a crime preventer, Dan Tandekwa.
They appeared today before the Police Disciplinary court chaired by Senior Commissioner of Police, Denis Ondongpiny for the hearing of their case. Prosecution led by Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Catherine Bamushemereire presented Assistant Commissioner of Police Fortune Habyara, the Commander of the Professional Standards Unit as the first witness.
During the cross examination of 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, the prosecution of junior officers who acted on the orders of their superiors, knowledge of the orders that were issued to the commanders before the operations and placing the suspects on the scene of crime.
The Kampala South Metropolitan Police Commander, SSP Andrew Kaggwa tasked Habyara to explain why PSU has decided to use news clips from Television video clips instead of the footage produced by the police 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 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 is the group which briefs commanders before a sensitive operation.
The Kampala Metropolitan Operations Commander, Samuel 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, Moses Agaba and Patrick Muhumuza had initially told court that they were not at the scene of crime but prosecution produced video clips placing them at the scene.
Agaba says he only appeared at the seen 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.
Already five officers have faced a police probe over similar offenses and denied the charges.
There have been however calls for top police commanders to appear before the same probe as it was clear they were under orders from their superiors.
Kayihura has been blamed for militarising the police, as well as brutality and humiliating citizens.