Police officer denies assaulting a journalist, describe the charges as false

Joram Mwesigye extreme left standing in the dock during the court session. Photo Credit: Emmanuel Magambo

Kampala, 08th/Dec/2016, The former Old Kampala Division Police Commander (DPC), Joram Mwesigye has on 07/Dec/2016, started his defence in a case of assault of a journalist and malicious damage to property. He denied the charges preferred against him, describing them as false and accusing the State of turning against him.

During his unsworn testimony which lasted for more than an hour, before Grade One Magistrate, Gladys Kamasanyu, Mwesigye told court that he arrested Lwanga and five others on 12th /January/2015 at Florida bar and guest house along Namirembe road, during a demonstration by the unemployed youths, who had first gathered at JEEMA Offices in Mengo that morning. That when police dispersed the rowdy youths who were causing a lot of tension and inciting the public to join them, the police force couldn’t differentiate a journalist from the rioting youths. He said that Lwanga was arrested as a rioter, attracting laughers in a fully packed court.

He said that Lwanga could have been injured during the scuffle to arrest the youths, but not him the DPC assaulting him because he too fell down and injured his arms and legs in the process.

Mwesigye testified that it was at Old Kampala police station where the six suspects had been taken, that he identified Lwanga as a journalist after he complained of not feeling well, and that’s when he was taken to Mulago hospital for treatment.

He accused his superiors at the Central Police Station for acting under pressure from media houses and journalists to arrest him and charge him on matters which he said were political. He also expressed disappointment over the State’s failure to protect him. “Am shocked and disappointed that I did my work diligently, but the State which was supposed to protect me turned against me…..my career has been wasted, my image tarnished…but am ready to move on to serve my country in other capacities.” A seemingly angry former DPC told court.

He told court that prior to his arrest, he had made efforts to apologise to Lwanga on behalf of the force, so he prayed court to allow him talk to Lwanga to explore an amicable settlement of the matter. But when asked for his opinion, Lwanga ruled out settling the matter amicably, saying that he has suffered immeasurably and therefore wants a judicial decision. The Magistrate called on both parties to explore an out of court settlement saying there is still room between now and the day of judgment.

The matter was adjourned to 5th /January/2017 for further hearing of Mwesigye’s defence witnesses.

HRNJ-UG Admin

Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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