International human rights expert Major (rtd) Pollar Awich has today appeared before the police administrative court as the third principal witness in a case against police officers accused of failing to supervise their juniors who beat up supporters of opposition figure Dr Kizza Besigye.
Awich, the last witness and a jurist of the UN in Geneva was presented by Prosecutor Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Katherine Kusemererwa, was testifying against the eight officers who were involved in the beating of civilians along Entebbe Road as Besigye was left the Nakawa court for a press briefing at the Forum for Democratic Change headquarters in Najjanankumbi on July 13, 2016.
In his submission Awich argued that the obligations of the Uganda Police include protecting the public from those intending to violate their rights. He added that this has to be carried out in a professional manner based on the guidelines of the police.
Earlier, before Awich was presented to the police court chaired by Senior Commissioner of Police (SCP) Denis Odongpiny, prosecutor Kusemererwa amended the charge sheet to include a third count of Neglect of Duty against SSP Samuel Bamuzibire and ASP Patrick Muhumuza.
The two field force unit (FFU) commanders pleaded not guilty to the new charge but the prosecutor instead said she intended to make further amendments before the court decides whether to put the officers on their defence.
However the officers, led by SSP Andrew Kaggwa said the amendment was bad at law, prompting SCP Odongpiny to clarify that the prosecutor was in order ‘if the amendments are made before the accused begin the defence’.
Another officer, SSP Bamuzibire complained that they were being tried concurrently in the police administration court and the High Court (criminal case), something he said was ‘not healthy at all’.
But SCP Odongpiny told the accused that according to the Police Act, a police officer appearing before two different courts is not regarded as a ‘double jeopardy’.
Meanwhile, court was sent into laughter when police constable Denis Muhangi, who once claimed to be mentally sick by the time he wrote his statement, said that the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura, and Awich, who retired from the UPDF at the rank of Major, could be related.
But Awich denied any mutual connection to the IGP, arguing that he was invited by the IGP’s office through the prosecutor to give witness on behalf of the state.
Hearing of the case continues August 11 at 2pm.