10 February 2013

Uganda: Police Rough Up Journalist

William Ntege aka kyuma kya Yesu, a journalist who has been assaulted severally by police during city riots has protested to Police Chief Lt Gen Kale Kayihura after the latest incident in which he was attacked with pepper-spray.

Ntege, a freelance journalist attached to WBS television, told The Observer that he was attacked on October 4, 2012, while recording the arrest of former FDC party leader Dr Kizza Besigye at Nakivubo.

"The police did not want media coverage after Besigye was rounded up; so, I was arrested and taken to CPS [Central Police Station] and my video camera worth Shs 8m was destroyed," he said. Ntege claims he also lost Shs 520,000 in cash.

This is the second time the police have damaged Ntege's camera, after an older one worth Shs 6.3m was also destroyed by security personnel during another city protest he covered, early last year. After the latest incident, Kayihura promised to compensate Ntege with another camera, but he was stunned when he was beaten again up and later held at CPS for a night on his third appearance there to claim the camera.

"My crime was finding my way to Kayihura's office to find out whether he was willing to compensate my camera as he promised in his SMS message to me," he said. "Grace Turyagumanawe ordered his juniors to pepper-spray me which they did and currently my ears and eyes are affected and the skin is getting off my head."

Ntege, who now complains of abnormal bleeding and facial burns, says an optical specialist at Mulago has refused to prescribe medication to stabilize his eyes, without a police reference letter. It is understood that the doctor is worried that he could end up in jail like toxicologist Dr Sylvester Onzivua, now facing charges of abuse of office, in relation to his handling of the samples of former Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda.

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