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Trial of police officer in assault case kicks off

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Trial of police officer in assault case kicks off

Mulindwa Mukasa

The trial of a high-ranking Police officer accused of assaulting a journalist kicked off in Kampala this week with the accuser’s lawyers calling for the disqualification of the accused’s lawyers on grounds of abuse of office.

Wandegeya Division Police Commander Julius Ceaser Tusingwire is charged in the high court of Kampala for assaulting Mulindwa Mukasa, Tusingwire was dragged to the courts of law under a civil suit that was filed against him with assistance from the Human Rights Network of Journalists – Uganda (HRNJ).

Mulindwa through his lawyer, Isaac Semakadde Kimaze of Centre for Legal Aid told Court presided over by Lady Justice Lydia Mugambe, sitting at Twed Towers in Kampala, that Tusingwire  fielded two lawyers Fred Masaba and Odjambo Bichachi who work with the Attorney General. Ssemakadde argued that this is against article 119 and 250 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda because it tantamounts to abuse of office because Tusingwire was sued in personal capacity.

Mulindwa alleges that on November 26, 2013, Tusingwire ordered for his arrest when he went to Wandegeya police station to cover the arrest of Top radio journalist one Richard Kasule aka Kamagu. Mulindwa’s lawyer argues that Tuwingwire instead ordered for his arrest which was carried out in an inhumane and degrading way.

Mulindwa also alleges that he was tortured and sprayed with pepper while in custody at Wandegeya police station. Tusingwire also ordered for the deletion of Mulindwa’s footage which he had taken during the police’s forceful dispersal of journalists from Wandegeya police station.

While announcing the filing of the case back in July, HRNJ and her partners in the defence of media freedom vowed they would pursue indisciplined police officers in their personal capacities who abuse the rights of journalits under the cover of their jobs. The representation of Tusingwire by lawyers from the Attorney General represents the deliberate stance by the police to fall back on state resources for their actions.

Court adjourned the matter to September 23.

 In a related development, the Uganda Human Rights Commission has ordered the Attorney General to appear before the Tribunal on the September 22 in a matter where Hasfa Nakyanzi, a journalist working with WBS T.V.

Nakyanzi accuses the Uganda Police Force of causing her her grievous bodily harm and loss of her journalistic tools as she covered a peaceful demonstration by Opposition Political leaders in Jinja town on the 11/March/2011.

The Tribunal presided over by Commissioner Katabalirwe Amooti made the order after the Attorney General failed to appear.  Present at the Tribunal were Ambassador Olara Otunnu, and the complainant who were ready to testify. The complainant is represented by Catherine Anite, the head of legal section at HRNJ-Uganda while Kosia Kasibayo held brief for the Attorney General.

Robert Ssempala, the HRNJ-Uganda National Coordinator said: “HRNJ-Uganda is elated with the commencement of the trials and pray that they will be expedited in the interest of justice for the victim journalists and the media at large.”

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