High Court has rejected government’s defense in a suit, in which Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament; Francis Zaake is seeking compensation for torture inflicted on him in state custody.
Civil Division High Court Judge, Esta Nambayo rejected the evidence on Wednesday morning after the State Attorney, Johnson Natuhwera told court that he was unable to present his colleague Moses Mugisha for cross-examination on his affidavit defending government.
Zaake sued government and eight police officers for the torture inflicted on him when he was picked from his residency in Mityana municipality on April 19th, 2020 for allegedly endangering the lives of the people by distributing food in violation of the ban by President Yoweri Museveni.
According to the legislator, he was detained for more than the mandatory 48 hours at the Police Special Investigations Unit in Kireka where he was tortured, which has since affected his eye sight and right leg.
The respondents to the suit are Wamala Region Police Commander, Bob Kagarura, Mityana District Police Commander Alex Mwiine and Elly Womanya, the commandant of the police’s Special Investigation Unit seeking to be compensated.
Others are Musa Walugembe, the officer in charge of the Special Investigations Unit, Abel Kandiho, the Boss of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Hamdan Twesigye and Haruna Mulungi Nsamba. When the matter came up for hearing on Wednesday morning, Zaake’s lawyers led by Eron Kiiza told court that they were served with the defense of the respondents late on Tuesday.
Kiiza asked court to summon Mugisha for cross examination over what he termed “hearsay” in his affidavit. In his affidavit, Mugisha wanted Zaake’s case dismissed on grounds that it has no merit. He claimed that when Zaake was arrested for flouting COVID 19 guidelines, he was never taken to any military detention save for the Police Special Investigations Unit.
He explained that subsequently, Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court ordered Zaake’s unconditional release or prosecution by a competent court, which saw him arraigned in Mityana Chief Magistrate’s Court.
However, Mugisha claimed in his affidavit that Zaake couldn’t be charged since court ordered that he is taken to hospital due to his medical condition.
Mugisha also claimed that he was informed by the lawyers in the Attorney General’s chambers that when Zaake was taken to Mulago National Referral Hospital, a team of specialists tried to examine him in the presence of his doctors but he refused.
He was released on April 29, 2020 on police bond. Last month, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions withdrew the criminal charges against him. In his response to the defense application, the State Attorney, Natuhwera, said the evidence in Mugisha’s affidavit should be taken the way it is without cross examining him.
This prompted Justice Nambayo to expunge the affidavit from the court record. She directed the parties to return to court on September 29 for further hearing and permitted the Attorney General’s representative to bring additional evidence. Kiiza spoke to our reporter about their request shortly after the court session. URN