COVID-19 UPDATE: Joint Security Taskforce dismisses MP Zaake’s torture narrative

The Joint Security Taskforce has dismissed the allegations of torturing Mityana Municipality MP, Zaake Francis, saying the accusations are “false and misleading”.

Recording his statement, Zaake accused police of arresting him from his home, amidst acts of torture and beatings. He adds that he was brutally detained in the police cells among 20 others including a female suspect.

The legislator who’s currently nursing wounds at Lubaga Hospital also says he was pepper sprayed in the eyes, and bundled into a police pick up. He further claims he was transferred to SID Kireka where he was questioned about his political affiliation to Hon. Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi. Zaake says he was tortured for failing to denounce the opposition in support of government, racially profiled along tribal grounds including lengthy interrogations.

According to CP Fred Enanga, the Police spokesperson, the Joint Security Taskforce takes MP Zaake’s allegations as propaganda aimed at negatively portraying security forces as brutal and further tarnish the image of Uganda as a country.

“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,” Enanga said in a Friday, May 8 statement.

He added that “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.”

Enanga says there was another scuffle after the MP “violently resisted attempts” to have him handcuffed and in the process damaged one side to the handcuffs.

Hon. Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP on oxygen at Lubaga Hospital

“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,” claims Enanga.

Enanga insists that throughout the investigative process at SID Kireka, the suspect 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,” he said.

It should be noted the Zaake spent some days on oxygen in hospital.

At one point, the court declined to read charges to the suspect because of his situation and instead ordered police to take him to the hospital for medication.

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