Mityana Municipality Member of Parliament Francis Zaake has been awarded 75 million Shillings by High Court in Kampala for the torture inflicted on him while in state custody.
Justice Esta Nambayo ordered government to pay the MP, following a case in which Zaake sued the Attorney General together with eight police officers after being detained at various detention facilities, where the officers allegedly tortured him affecting his eyesight and right leg.
Zaake was arrested from Mityana district last year, on grounds that he was involved in activities that were likely to spread COVID-19 in the community. This followed a decision by Zaake to distribute food to his constituents, which was against Presidential orders during the first COVID-19 lockdown, which started in March 2020.
Zaake was held without trial for ten days at Mityana Police Station, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence Headquarters in Mbuya, Special Investigations Unit in Kireka, before being transferred to the Japan-Uganda Friendship Hospital in Naguru and later to Kiruddu Hospital in Makindye. He would later be released on April, 29th, 2020 on police bond.
However, on April 27, 2020, the Nakawa Chief Magistrates Court had issued an order for Zaake’s unconditional release. He was presented before the Magistrates Court in Mityana, where he declined to take a plea forcing court to order that he should be taken to the hospital for treatment because of the multiple injuries, that were visible on his body.
Through his lawyers led by Eron Kiiza, Zaake then petitioned the High Court seeking to be compensated for the human rights violations that he endured during the time of his arrest and detention.
He sued Wamala Regional Police Commander Bob Kagarura, Mityana District Police Commander Alex Mwiine, Elly Womanya, the former commandant of the police’s Special Investigation Unit, Musa Walugembe, the officer in charge of the Special Investigations Unit, Abel Kandiho, the commander of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Hamdan Twesigye and Haruna Mulungi Nsamba.
However, government asked the court to dismiss the case on grounds that Zaake was arrested for flouting COVID-19 guidelines and was neither tortured nor taken to any military detention.
On Monday, Justice Nambayo ruled that she reviewed the medical reports and video clips tendered before the court and concluded that the injuries were inflicted on him while in police custody.
She further also relied on a report submitted before parliament by the then Minister of Internal Affairs Jeje Odongo and another from the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims which showed that Zaake had injuries and symptoms consistent with torture and ill-treatment.
While Zaake wanted the court to find the said police officers liable for the torture, the Judge has ruled that there was no evidence to show that the named officers individually participated in the acts.