The nine suspects on trial for the 2018 kidnap and murder of Susan Magara, a cashier at Bwendero Dairy Farm (BDF), have appealed to the trial judge, Alex Ajiji, to suspend court proceedings. Their request is based on accusations that security operatives subjected them to torture during evidence collection following their arrests.
The accused, namely Yusuf Lubega, Hussein Wasswa, Muzamiru Ssali, Hajara Nakandi, Abubaker Kyewolwa, Mahad Kisalita, Hassan Kato Miiro, Ismail Bukenya, and Musa Abbas Buvumbo, have made these claims through their legal representatives. They assert that a joint-task force, comprising members of the police, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), and the Joint Anti-Terrorist Task Force (JATT), employed torture methods to obtain confessions from them.
Lubega, in particular, challenged the testimony of Mr. Frank Nyakairu, an operative affiliated with the CMI. Nyakairu claimed that Lubega had voluntarily confessed to the crime and provided detailed information about his co-accused. Lubega vehemently denied this assertion, citing the alleged torture as the reason for his confession. He stated that he had been physically abused, kicked, and was suffering from chest and back pain. Lubega expressed that the pressure to confess had been driven by the fear for his life.
The accused individuals have also requested that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) supply the court with the forms used by police surgeons to examine them. They intend to use this evidence as proof of their torture claims. However, due to the absence of an independent report from the African Centre for Torture Victims, the judge was compelled to adjourn the case to November 13.
During his testimony, Mr. Nyakairu revealed that Lubega had confessed to his involvement in the crime. According to Nyakairu, Yakub Byensi, who remains at large, masterminded the operation in collaboration with Hakim Lugolobi, responsible for securing the mobile lines used in the abduction. The two fugitives disappeared into a forest in Katosi after purchasing a significant piece of land with the ransom paid to them.
Nyakairu further explained that Hajara Nakandi had the responsibility of guarding Susan Magara before severing her two fingers. These fingers were later sent to the Magara family in a parcel. Nakandi also used the victim’s car to transport and discard her body in Kitiko. Other suspects, according to Nyakairu, were primarily tasked with gathering information about Magara’s family members during the period when Byensi demanded a ransom.
The prosecution, led by Ms. Irene Nakimbugwe and Mr. Joseph Kyomuhendo, argues that the suspects, along with others who remain at large, kidnapped Susan Magara on February 7, 2018, with the intent of procuring a ransom or gaining from her release to prevent her murder. The trial remains ongoing, with the allegations of torture adding a complex layer to the legal proceedings.