Uganda’s security services have dismissed as “false” and “misleading” claims by MP Mityana Municipality, Francis Zaake, that he was tortured while in detention.
Zaake said he was violently arrested from his home before being beaten and brutally detained in the police cells for reportedly violating the guidelines put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The lawmaker said pepper was sprayed in his eyes by security personnel before being bundled onto a police pick-up and transferred to Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Zaake said he was thereafter taken to Special Investigations Department (SID) Kireka, where he was questioned about his political affiliation to Hon. Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, tortured for failing to denounce the opposition in support of government and racially profiled along tribal grounds including lengthy interrogations.
In a joint statement sent to ChimpReports on Friday, police said the allegations were “false and misleading” and part of a “sophisticated propaganda aimed at negatively portraying security forces as brutal and further tarnish the image of Uganda as a country.”
Parliament has since expressed outrage over the alleged torture of Zaake, demanding answers from the executive.
Below is part of the joint statement issued by security services on Friday morning:
That it’s true Hon. Francis Zaake was arrested for flouting the directives and new protocols on food distribution aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
As a result he was investigated on charges of disobedience of lawful orders and negligent acts likely to spread infectious diseases.
Upon arrest, he was transported to Mityana where he was detained at 7.13pm.
He interacted freely with the other suspects, and there were no claims of torture.
It was after he learnt about his transfer to SID Kireka that he actively began resisting the lawful orders from the officers.
This led to a struggle while removing him from the cells, upon obtaining credible intelligence of plans by his supporters and relatives to hold violent protests at the police station the following morning, to forcefully cause his release from custody.
He held onto a metallic door and fixed one of his legs in between the bars to the cells, assisted by other suspects. He was however, overpowered and removed from the cells.
There was another scuffle after he violently resisted attempts to have him handcuffed and in the process damaged one side to the handcuffs.
A second pair of handcuffs was applied on him. Although he was restrained, it was not possible to transport him in the cabin of the police car because of his violent nature.
He therefore, was placed behind the police patrol pick-up, where he violently kept kicking around and aggressively conducting himself. This prompted the officers to further restrain him, to guard against more injuries.
He was finally taken into custody at SID Kireka at 00.11am after a journey of approximately one hour and twenty minutes. It is not true that he was taken CMI. The story is a total concoction and the CCTV camera stamps from Bulenga to SID Kireka are clear.
Throughout the investigative process at SID Kireka, he was not deprived of his rights.
His injuries were attended to by the Clinical officer, he refused to record a statement without his lawyer, his family and lawyers had access to him.
Even when he claimed he was sick, he was admitted at the Iran Uganda Hospital to seek medical care.
And as a standard procedure for all suspects he was examined on police Form 24 and found with superficial injuries on the forehead, earlobes, the chest area, hands and legs, by three competent Doctors including his personal Doctor, Dr. Andrew Ssekitoleko.
Efforts to further subject him to further x-ray and scan to establish the nature of injuries was rejected by him. He also rejected the joint team of medical Doctors from Mulago National Referral Hospital who were supposed to determine his health status.
The public should know that the Hon Francis Zaake, has a history of violent conduct witnessed on a couple of occasions in Parliament and during the Arua fracas.
He has much disrespect for security personnel, last year he was arrested on 21.02.2019, after he out rightly breached the conditions of his police bond. And he has previously feigned sickness as a tool to politicize and snub the legal procedures in place, for political sympathy and to mobilize their donors.
Although the specific allegations of torture in his affidavit are not consistent with the physical evidence gathered thus far, the Leadership of the Joint Security agencies remain committed to protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Ugandans as guaranteed in the Constitution.
We remain confident that once the facts gathered are presented before the Civil Court, our officers will be considered to have carried out their duties in accordance with the law.
CP Fred Enanga
FOR JOINT SECURITY SPOKESPERSONS