After a series of pre-trial sessions held at the police disciplinary court at Naguru, all the nine police officers and one ‘crime preventer’ accused of beating up supporters of Dr Kizza Besigye have a case to answer, the police court has declared.
The suspects were sent to the police disciplinary court at the intervention of police boss General Kale Kayihura, following allegations that they conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner while on duty during processions by supporters of key opposition figure Dr Besigye, after he was released from Luzira following a two-month incarceration on charges of treason.
At first Gen Kayihura had praised his officers for ‘a job well executed’ but then turned around and ordered their prosecution after watching footage about the fracas that took place along the Entebbe and Kasangati roads on two consecutive days that followed Dr Besigye’s release on bail by Nakawa High Court Judge Masalu Musene.
The officers were then charged with use of excessive force while conducting their duties before court presided over by Senior Commissioner of Police (SCP) Dennis Odongpiny.
The officers, Senior Superintendents of Police (SSP) Samuel Bamuzibire and Andrew Kaggwa, Superintendent of Police (SP) Moses Nanoka, and Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Patrick Muhumuza were jointly on a holding charge of ‘neglect of duty’, contrary Section 44 Subsection 1 code 19A of the Police Act. The four also face two other charges of unlawful/unnecessary conduct of authority and discreditable/irregular conduct with Police Constables Robert Wanzaala, Willy Kalyango, Sula Kato, Deneth Muhangi, Moses Agaba and crime preventer Dan Tandeka.
According to prosecution, the extra charges are contrary to Section 44 of the Police Act, subsection 1 code 24b and subsection 1 code 12, respectively.
Of the 10 police officers facing trial, only SP Nanoka and PC Wanzala were ready to begin their defence while the rest asked for time to prepare their defence by Wednesday, September 14.
And when he took to the stand, Mr Nanoka said he did not see any of his officers beating up the civilians because he was preoccupied with other responsibilities. Nanoka also denied taking part in any form of assault, and said he would produce two witnesses to testify in his defense.
As for PC Wanzaala, he told court that he only held a cane which he used to scare away people near the patrol pickup on which he was deployed.