Three prison warders attached to Kalisizo Government Prison in Rakai district have been remanded for allegedly assaulting journalists. The officers, Robert Ssemata, Frank Kyomwiru and Alex Mukasa, allegedly assaulted two journalists on March 18 this year.
The officers are Robert Ssemata, Frank Kyomwiru and Alex Mukasa.
It is alleged that the suspects, while at Kalisizo Prisons on March 18th this year, assaulted Pascal Lutabi, a Daily Monitor journalist and John Bosco Mulyowa of Vision group while they reported on the escape of several inmates from prison.
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 after the prison warders allegedly confiscated and destroyed them.
On Thursday, the trio appeared before Susan Awidi, the Kalisizo Grade Two Magistrate and was charged with two counts of assaulting the journalists while in line of duty, confiscating their gadgets and damaging them maliciously.
Prosecution led by Rachael Namazzi, the Resident State Attorney claimed that on March 18, the suspects pounced on the journalists and beat them seriously instead of explaining to them circumstances under which inmates escaped from Kalisizo prison. She explained that investigations are complete and several witnesses have been lined up to pin the suspects on both assault and malicious damage to property.
Namazzi also asked court not to grant the suspects bail because the state was ready to start their trial right away. She explained that since they had already snubbed court summons last month, they did not deserve any bail.
However, the trio pleaded not guilty to the charges and asked for bail. Robert Ssemata, one of the suspects asked court to grant them bail since they are still employees of the government of Uganda under Uganda Prisons Services. Ssemata explained that because they are still working at Kalisizo Government prison, they can easily be traced since they sleep within the prison premises. Frank Kyomwiru, another suspect presented Simon Lukyamuzi, his brother, as a surety to get bail.
But the Magistrate denied them bail and remanded them to Kalisizo Government Prison. Magistrate Awidi explained that the suspects failed to present eligible sureties and court could not release them on bail. She argued that until they present eligible sureties, court shall not release them because she is not sure they would not jump bail.
Both Pascal Lutabi and John Bosco Mulyowa, the victims of the violent attack were in court alongside a team of officials from Human Rights Network for Journalists which is pushing the criminal case against the prison warders.