Uganda police chief summoned to court over alleged torture

AP News
Posted: Aug 01, 2016 6:59 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda's police chief has been summoned to court over torture charges related to alleged police brutality against supporters of an opposition leader who faces treason charges.

The charges against Gen. Kale Kayihura were brought by rights lawyers acting independently of the public prosecutor, who has powers to take over the case at some point if he becomes interested, said Solomon Muyita, a spokesman for the judiciary.

Criminal summonses were issued last week against Kayihura and seven other police commanders operating in the capital, Kampala. They have been ordered to appear in a magistrate's court on Aug. 10.

"If Kayihura doesn't show up in court, then the prosecutors can ask the court to issue an arrest warrant," Muyita said.

Ugandan police have drawn wide condemnation recently over their tactics against supporters of Kizza Besigye, a four-time presidential candidate who was charged with treason after he publicly said he had won a disputed presidential election held in February.

In one incident last month, police wielding sticks were seen roughing up civilians who had gathered at the roadside to see Besigye after a judge had given him bail.

Kayihura later praised the perpetrators of the beatings, saying the officers had acted to prevent chaos in the city. In another incident in July, a police truck was driven into the back of a man waving at Besigye.

Kayihura, a close ally of long-time President Yoweri Museveni and who trained as a lawyer, was appointed to lead the police in 2005 amid concerns by rights activists and opposition leaders that Museveni was actively militarizing the police.

Museveni has been in power since 1986.