Saturday August 12 2017

Court awards dismissed police officer Shs300 million

Ms Judith Nabakooba (right), the then police sp

Ms Judith Nabakooba (right), the then police spokesperson, visits Mr Kassimu Ssuuna at his home in Kireka, Wakiso District in 2013. FILE PHOTO 

By ANDREW BAGALA

Kampala- A senior officer dismissed by the police leadership after torture of a former worker of Mukwano Group of Companies has been acquitted by the High Court and awarded Shs300m in damages for wrongful dismissal.
Assistant Superintendent of Police Asobasi Okumu and four other officers were tried in the police disciplinary court for the brutal arrest of Mr Kassim Ssuuna, a former worker of Mukwano Group, who was protesting in front of the Mukwano factory in Kampala in September 2013.
Mr Ssuuna was protesting dismissal and failure to compensate him after his fingers were cut off by a machine while at work.

In 2016, police dismissed Okumu, who led the operation, Police Constable Patrick Muwonge and Constable Arafati Lwanga.

The police court also demoted Simon Oswama from sergeant to corporal, while Constable Geoffrey Odongo was cleared.
Mr Okumu sought redress in the High Court. In the High Court judgment, Justice Ogulo Oumo also ordered Mr Okumu to be reinstated to his police duties.
“The applicant is hereby awarded general damages against the respondent (Attorney General) for the suffering, humiliation and embarrassment he suffered as a result of the actions of the agents of the respondents at Shs300m,” Justice Oumo said.
The award also attracts 30 per cent interest from the date of judgment of July 4, until payment is completed.
“The respondent (Attorney General) is to pay the applicant’s costs,” Judge Oumo said.

The Attorney General did not appeal the judgement within 30 days as the law requires, which means the government has to pay Mr Okumu the damages as prescribed by court.
In the judgement, the judge said the police decision was “tainted with illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety.”

Judge Oumo cited an illegality in the composition of the police disciplinary court where some members were removed and replaced with others in the middle of the trial.
Judge Oumo said it was unfair since Mr Okumu wasn’t given a chance to object or consent to the police court panel.

She said the police neither produced a medical report to prove that Mr Ssuuna was tortured nor invited a doctor, who treated him, to testify.

abagala@ug.nationmedia.com

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