Even before the Ugandan government can find killers of former Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi, it now has to pay a Ush1.76 billion (about $485,000) fine for the torture of suspects it arrested over the incident.
High Court judge Oumo Oguli Thursday ordered the State to pay Ush80m (about $22,000) to each of the 22 people facing murder charges after medical evidence showed that they had been tortured while in custody.
The suspects told the court that they had been unlawfully detained by the army before being transferred to the Nalufenya detention facility in Jinja where they were ill-treated and denied medical care.
The judge faulted the State for failing to account for the accused’s injuries.
The Thursday ruling was also based on a medical report ordered by the court and done by the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims. After examination, the centre said it found that the suspects were suffering from both physical and mental impairment.
The suspects' lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi had sought court orders to compel the government to take his clients to hospital for medical examination to verify the cause of injuries they had.
“This ruling is very important. I am particularly happy because we have a verdict in only three months. We filed in July and now it is October and we already have a verdict,” he said.
The judge further ordered that the accused be treated and a medical status report filed with the court every month.
The suspects will remain in custody.
“The applicants are still suspects until proven guilty. And therefore should be treated well without torturing them,” justice Oguli said.
The Ugandan police spokesman, Mr Kaweesi, was assassinated on the morning of March 17, a few metres from his house in Kulambiro, a suburb of Kampala. His body guard Kenneth Erau and driver Godfrey Wambewo were also killed.