Magara murder suspects were tortured, says lawyer

By Betty Ndagire

KAMPALA-A lawyer representing 10 people accused of killing Suzan Magara has told court that his clients were tortured at the hands of security officers.
Mr Abdu Hakiim Lukwago, the defence lawyer said that he interviewed all his clients when he visited them in Luzira prison and all claimed that upon arrest, they were held in what they termed a “torture prison,” in an unknown location.
“They were denied rest, tied up in a pair, forced to sleep on steep stairs, confined in extreme cold solitary confinements, treated to prolonged interrogation, beaten, subjected to electric shocks and stepped on their stomachs to vomit the water that they had forcefully drunk,” Mr Lukwago said, citing that the information he said was provided to him by his client.
The suspects include the Imam of Usafi Mosque, Mahad Kasalita, Yusuf Lubega, 32, a boda boda rider, Hussein Wasswa, 22, a hawker, Muzamiru Ssali, 27, boda boda rider and Hajara Nakandi, 35, a teacher.
Others are Abubaker Kyewolwa, 30, a businessman, Hassan Kato Miiro, 22, Ismail Bukenya, a businessman and Musa Abbas Buvumbo, 23.
Mr Lukwago said his clients as well revealed that their dignity was trivialised as they were kicked while prostrating to pray.
He said the aim of the torment was to force his clients to confess to being responsible for the murder of Magara who was a cashier with Bwendero Dairy Farm (BDF).
Similar allegations have been made in an open court by the accused persons on their previous appearances before Buganda Road Chief Magistrates Court.
To that effect Mr Lukwago sought court to order for a private medical examination to be made on his clients.
He asserted that once court grants his request, allegations of torture will be confirmed through the medical report. This will embarrass the security officers who violate human rights they are in charge to protecting.
In reply, state prosecutor Ms Patricia Chingtho asked court not to allow defence request asserting that examinations of suspects can done on Police Form 24 by a Police surgeon.
The trial magistrate, Mr Robert Mukanza adjourned the matter to July30 for a ruling on whether grant or decline the defence request.
Prosecution contends that the accused persons and others still at large on February 7, 2018 kidnapped Magara, who was a cashier with Bwendero Dairy Farm (BDF) with intent to procure a ransom or benefit from her liberation from the danger of being murdered. The indictment further states that the accused and others still at large on February 27 at Kigo in Wakiso district murdered Magara.
The deceased was kidnapped while driving to her home in Lungujja, Rubaga Division and taken captive for 20 days until she was murdered in cold blood and body dumped off Entebbe Road.
Majority of the suspects were arrested on April 27 in an operation at Usafi Mosque, Kiguli Village in Kisenyi III Parish, Kampala, by a joint team of army and police. The operation started at about 9pm and two people were killed during the arrest.   
They are charged with two counts of murder and kidnap with intent to procure a ransom contrary to the Penal Code Act.

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