Uganda: Army Refutes Tortured Soldier’s Red Hot Panga Story

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The army has denied claims by a member of its rank and file accusing senior officers of torture as false and a creation of the soldier’s imagination.
Following a story in the Daily Monitor about Lt John Junior Mware’s plight at the hands of officers attached to the Military Police, the army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said, “Some of the purported “torture” claims were a making of the Officer himself by attempting to live in denial. At worst, he denied himself medication yet he knew his very long history of certain health complications that we do not have authority to divulge. The scars shown to the media, like that on his head which is well known to all who have worked with him or known him for a long time, are older than the prison ordeal.”

Mr Mware’s lawyer, Mr Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi and founder of the Centre for Media and Justice which investigated the matter however poured cold water on Ankunda’s impromptu statement, asserting that, “I can say that the military is not correct in denying these facts because when this report was made to them, their duty was to make a report and interview all witnesses including the complainant. That wasn’t done, meaning that the army knew it was culpable.” He also mocked the army for remembering it is a public institution accountable to Ugandans as and when the press flashes its lights in its direction.

Lt John Junior Mware shows scars from the

 

Lt John Junior Mware shows scars from the wounds he sustained on his leg during the alleged torture, in an interview at Daily Monitor. PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME

Ankunda also cautioned Lt Mware who yesterday was indisposed at his residence in Bweyogerere, a suburb on the outskirts of Kampala city and faulted him for addressing his issues in the press. In so doing, the army spokesman warned, Mware was committing more crimes and acting contrary to army rules that bar officers from speaking to the press without the army’s green light.

 

Mr Rwakafuuzi told off Mr Ankunda in an interview yesterday, “What Monitor is doing is to help us remind the army it is accountable to the public so it shouldn’t panic by intimidating this soldier further. By the time he goes to the press, he is desperate. He is about to die so what should he do? The freedom of expression is not redundant especially if used to assert rights being violated by the state.”
In the story published by this newspaper, Mware who has since dragged the army officers and Attorney General to court recounted his ordeal including a Major in the army burning him with a red hot panga and later detaining him at Makindye Military Barracks where he was charged with drunkenness, insubordination and attempted arson as he lay on a mattress in excruciating pain.

©Alleastafrica and Daily Monitor

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