Military arrests UPDF soldier trying to report torture at parliament

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Lt John Junior Mware at work before he was allegedly tortured. PHOTO BY COLLEB MUGUME

The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has directed the Parliament Police commander to locate a UPDF lieutenant who had come to see her only to be picked up by military police and rushed away.

Lt John Junior Mwaale, who is attached to Uganda Military Police Unit, on Tuesday tried to access parliament, seeking out Kadaga to report to her how he was tortured by the army.

While addressing plenary, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, told the house that Lt Mwaale was intercepted at the parliament steps, arrested and driven away by military.

Speaking on the matter, Brig Richard Karemire, the Ministry of Defence & Veteran Affairs/UPDF Spokesperson, denied that Lt Mwaale was ever tortured by the army at any one point.

Karemire said the soldier has been a habitual drunkard and violent officer. He was in the wee hours of 6th February 2015 arrested from Kisenyi bar and “because of his very violent character was handcuffed on arrest”.

He was subsequently charged in the Military Police Unit Disciplinary Committee for drunkenness, insubordinate behaviour and attempt to commit arson.

He was convicted and served a sentence of one year.

“He underwent various medical treatment at various centres aimed at saving him from the long-time held ailments,” Karemire said.

Lt Mwaale was released on July 22, 2016 and ought to have reported back to his military police unit, according to the army spokesperson.

“He is still a service UPDF officer and can access free and proper medical treatment. Any concerns he may have, can still be handled by leadership.”

He added: “This is to refute allegations that he was tortured at the time of his arrest and during imprisonment. We wish to restate that UPDF shall remain very firm in dealing with an indisciplined soldier using our tested legal methods.”

According to Karemire, discipline remains the army’s bedrock and a core value of the UPDF culture and no gimmick can make is deviate from it.

Lt John Junior Mwaale joined the UPDF in 1998. His alleged torture comes on the same day that MPs recommended to the house to close down Nalufenya detention facility in Jinja district.

While adopting the report to close down the torture chamber, Kadaga said parliament condemns the torture of individuals.

Torture allegations

In December 2016, Daily Monitor chronicled the tale Lt Mwaale, now 38, saying he joined the army as an idealist 20 year-old young man after his academic journey at Nakasongola Army Secondary School came to a halt in Senior Two.

Between 1999 and 2000, he was part of the force that entered the thickets of the DR Congo to track down Allied Democratic Forces rebels.

In 2012 and 2013, he was deployed to Somalia to battle al-Shabaab Islamic militants.

Lt Mwaale, RO 110950, joined Military Police in 2014 where he served as platoon commander in the 5th Division in the Acholi sub-region, northern Uganda.

He told Monitor that President Museveni’s visit to his home village in Kikoni Parish, Ruhaama County in Ntugumo District, to pay homage to Constatine Kabazire, Lt Mwaale’s paternal grandfather, inspired him to join the army.

After a chat with Museveni, Mwaale went to Kabamba, one of the army’s training facilities, with the help of first son, Maj Gen Muhozi Kainerugaba.

After training, he was deployed to 5th Division on a ‘Return to Unit order’ and sent to Acholi to fight Joseph Kony [Lord’s Resistance Army warlord].

On October 1, 2014, Mwaale wrote to Museveni who he met in February 2015 after he was already in Military Police attached to Luzira Prisons as a backup force for the Uganda Prisons Service.

The Officer in charge of B Company, Maj Ramathan Gidudu, gave him permission to leave the detachment so he could meet Museveni.

On the way, Mwaale branched to a bar for a bottle of beer only to be rounded by six soldiers.

“They dragged me on the ground, hit my body with batons, sticks, rained punches and kicks all over the face and chest before tying my hands,” he told Monitor last year.

By morning, Lt Mwaale had lost his molar tooth on the left side of the jaws with a few other teeth loosely dangling in his dental case.

He had sustained a deep cut on the left side of his head and a nail on the big toe of the right foot was plucked out.

He was eventually delivered to the OC’s office, who demanded that he wears army uniform before tying him on a pole. The OC then placed a red hot panga on his thighs that literally melted the layers of chocolate brown flesh.

The soldiers grabbed his 42-inch television set he bought at Shs800,000, a watch that cost him $100 in Mogadishu and a Lumia 6 smart phone, which were all taken to the OC’s house.

A Military Police car was called in from Makindye headquarters which dumped at the quarter guard and two days later dragged him to a health centre.

He was then hauled to the Unit Disciplinary Committee and charged with insubordination, drunkenness and arson by Maj Columbus Tumwine.

“I worked for this army [UPDF] for 18 years and see how I am rewarded. When we fought Kony and ADF whenever we captured prisoners of war we treated them humanely; so if the army can treat its enemies kindly why subject one of its own to this hell even if I erred?” he told Monitor.

On February 20, 2015, Lt Mwaale was taken to the Military hospital in Bombo before being referred to Mulago National Referral Hospital.

On March 13, 2015, Lt Mwaale was granted bail and returned to his duty station residence in Luzira.

In July 2015, the charges against him were dismissed by the Unit Disciplinary Court.

“After beating and deforming me, they went to Somalia where they are now eating rice and chicken as my family suffers. My children have dropped out of school and I live on handouts now,” he said.

In a civil suit No. 568 of 2016, filed on August 26, 2016, Mwaale accuses Col Emmanuel Kanyesigye, the commandant of the Military Police Barracks, Major Ramathan Gidudu, Sergeant Yahaya Byenkya, Cpl Joel Okong, Cpl James Anywar, Cpl Kisule, Private Odur, and Cpl Nzeyimana, of torturing him.

Additional background information by Daily Monitor