Kampala — The whereabouts of the man captured on video being tortured by armed security men in civilian clothes remains a mystery but the identities of his tormentors have been established.
The army remained cagey about where the victim, Mr Yusuf Kawooya, is being kept or his fate. His family members said they have failed to trace him or to know the charges he is being detained for.
Case of kidnap opened at police
His relatives have opened up a case of kidnap at the Central Police Station in Kampala.
The LC3 councillor for Ndebba Parish in Rubaga Division, Ms Sharifa Nakitende, said the family had opened up a case of kidnap on reference GEF/133/2018.
"We have tried to look for him but there is no one who is taking responsibility for his arrest. That is is why we decided to report a case at CPS," Ms Nakitende, Mr Kawooya is younger sister, said.
Mr Kawooya was brutally arrested and tortured near Christ the King Church in Kampala on Thursday by armed men who battered him with gun butts. They later bundled him into a tinted taxi with a fake number plate.
His tormentors have been identified as Daniel Senkungu, Moses Rwamwenge and one Omara. Others were identified only as Nickson and Simon, all operatives of the former Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) now Special Forces Command, the military unit that guards the President.
Nickson and Simon had reportedly been reverted to the police Flying Squad Unit and often camped at Kampala Central Police Station and Old Kampala Police Station.
The army admitted Mr Kawooya's tormentors belong to the military, adding that they had been arrested and charged in the military disciplinary court and remanded at Makindye barracks.
On Saturday, the army issued a statement, saying "the suspects were arrested and charged in the army's disciplinary court in Mbuya."
Daily Monitor could not readily establish which unit of the army the five security men belong to.
Security sources said the armed operatives belong to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence but the agency's boss, Brig Abel Kandiho, declined to speak on the matter.
"That is Brig Karemire's work," Brig Kandiho said, referring us to the army spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire. Brig Karemire did not respond to our inquiries.
Mr Kawooya's family said they had checked in all police detention facilities but failed to trace him or know the case against him. They opened a case of kidnap at Kampala Central Police Station.
Ms Sharifa Nakitende, his younger sister and a councillor for Ndeeba parish in Rubaga Division, said whereas both police and army have refused to disclose where her brother has been detained or the charges against him, all they know is that he is being persecuted for political reasons.
Ms Nakitende said her brother has been a strong opposition activist and he was arrested because he does not support the ruling NRM party.
"This arrest is political because my brother does not support the NRM party. We know he was arrested and tortured because of his political beliefs," Ms Nakitende said.
Sources said Mr Kawooya has been one of the architects of demonstrations in the city and the suburbs. They described him as "a very good" mobiliser of the Opposition protests.
The sources suspect it is for this reason that he was violently arrested to break down the Opposition backbone.
When asked about Mr Kawooya's whereabouts, Mr Luke Owoyesigire, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, said "Ask afande Kayima and afande Onyango, they will have answers for you.
Mr Patrick Onyango, the deputy police spokesperson, said it is the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) who know where Mr Kawooya is detained and on what charges.
"You saw the people who arrested him being paraded. Ask them to tell where they are keeping him because we did not arrest him and we do not have him," Mr Onyango said.
Brig Karemire did not respond to our inquiries. Lt Col Deo Akiiki, his deputy, also remained cagey. "No further details yet," he said.
The operatives were charged with brutal arrest and torture.
While appearing before the disciplinary court, the five operatives admitted to violently arresting Mr Kawooya and pleaded for lenient sentencing from the army court.
Col Tom Kabuye, the chairperson of the court, told the accused: "You executed an operation without following the standard operating procedures."
He said the operatives face dismissal with disgrace from the army.
When a soldier is dismissed with disgrace from the army he/she is not entitled to any retirement package. He/she is given only transport fare to take him/her home.
Plead for leniency
One of the operative dressed in a blue checkered shirt was heard pleading to the army court: "Afande, we went for an operation on 18th [October], we got a suspect. He was very violent and we mishandled him. Afande whatever sentencing, I am requesting for your leniency." The second accused also confessed to torturing Kawooya and pleaded for leniency. "He was a suspect, but we mishandled him, I request the court to reduce the sentence, sir," he pleaded. Three other suspects remained silent. It is not clear when the accused will reappear in the military court for sentencing.