JOURNALISTS BEATING: Warders Face Assault Charges

Warders Beating Journalists
Warders Beating Journalists

Three prison warders accused of brutally attacking journalists last month have been charged with assault and malicious damage to property.

The three; Robert Ssematta, Corporal Frank Kyomwiru and Alex Mukisa, are all attached to Kalisizo Government Prison in Rakai district. The trio is accused of attacking and assaulting Pascal Lutabi, a Daily Monitor journalist and John Bosco Mulyowa of Vision Group who were reporting on the escape of inmates from prison.

They allegedly committed the crimes on March 18th this year in the compound of Kalisizo Town Council headquarters.

A medical report issued by Dr. Grace Kyasimire of Kisa Medical Centre shows that Lutabi sustained bodily injuries. The two journalists also lost their cameras and recorders which were allegedly confiscated and destroyed by the prison warders. The trio had also opened an assault case against the two reporters.

But on Thursday evening, the Director of Public Prosecutions discontinued the case against journalists over lack of sufficient evidence. Rachel Namazzi, the Resident State Attorney says they closed the files against the reporters because the evidence against them was insufficient. She explains in the statement given to police that the injuries sustained by Robert Ssematta, one of the prison officers, could have been a result of self defense from journalists who were being assaulted.

The State Attorney instead asked police to arrest the prison warders for prosecution because investigations into their attack on journalists were complete.

This morning, Charles Rusheshe, the Criminal Investigations Officer Kalisizo central police station, charged the three officers with assault and malicious damage to property. Rusheshe says police gathered enough evidence from witnesses and victims pinning the three prison officers.

According to Rusheshe, the trio will be produced in court next week although they deny charges against them.

Pascal Lutabi, one of the victims says he wants the suspects prosecuted because they rendered him jobless after confiscating and damaging his camera yet he was on duty. He explains that he is unable to file stories at WBS TV because he has no camera.

Early this month, the same officers were charged with Discreditable Conduct, a charge which leaves them at risk of dismissal from the prison services. This week, Dr Johnson Byabasaijja, the Commissioner General of Uganda Prisons, suspended Tom Okello, the Officer in Charge of Kalisizo Government Prison and Julius Asiimwe, the Southern Region Prison Commander in connection to the escape of inmates and assault of journalists.

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