Hearing of torture complaints in Gen Katumba case not urgent, court rules

One of the suspects shows hallmarks of torture

One of the suspects shows hallmarks of torture

The High court in Kampala has rejected an application seeking the urgent hearing of a case challenging the alleged torture of  Gen Katumba Wamala shooting suspects.  

The head of civil division justice Musa Ssekaana rejected the application filed by Wameli and Company Advocates on grounds that he was not satisfied that it requires urgency to the extent that it should be heard during the lockdown.

Instead, Ssekaana has advised the lawyers to first write to the prisons authorities - informing them that they would like to take their medical experts to prison to examine torture and failure to succeed, that is when they should return to court.

The judge reasoned that the maximum time for such cases is within ten years, adding that not everyone whose rights have been infringed on during the lockdown requires a certificate of urgency to be heard.

The dismissed application for a certificate of urgency was filed on Thursday minutes after filing an application in which the lawyers wanted the court to order for compensation and immediate release of eight suspects charged with the double murder of Brendah Nantongo Katumba the daughter of Katumba Wamala and his driver Haruna Kayondo.

The eight suspects are Sheikh Yusuf Siraji Nyanzi, Hussein Sserubula, Muhammad Kagugube, Kamada Walusimbi, Siriman Ayuub Kisambira, Abdulaziz Ramathan Dunku, Habib Ramanthan Marjan and Huzaifa Wampa. Another four other suspects have since been shot dead. 

The lawyers had wanted court to compensate and set the suspects free on grounds of having been tortured while under state custody between June 24 and July 2, 2021. 

"At arrest and during their detention, the applicants suffered torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, particularly serious physical injury, trauma, embarrassment, mental and emotional stress in the hands of the respondents and their agents, servants or persons acting under their command and thus the applicants require urgent medical treatment and rehabilitation," reads the application in part.

The lawyers wanted the case to be heard during lockdown and torture examined by medical experts without delay when the wounds are still fresh.

Chief justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo suspended hearing of cases due to Covid-19 for 42 days and ordered that only urgent matters were to be heard during this time. 

Since then, lawyers who think that their cases are very urgent have been filing applications but justice Ssekaana said he wasn't convinced that Wameli's case was one that needed to be heard urgently. 

Addressing the media after court, the suspects' lawyers led by Anthony Wameli revealed that they will do as advised by the judge in the application which was heard ex parte. 

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd