A joint investigation by UPDF and Police has started in Kasese Municipality to find out the circumstances under which a civilian suspected to have stolen two goats from his village died in habitat of military custody, we have learnt.
The deceased has been identified as Edson Nzabalha, around 30 years and a resident of Temangalo cell in central Division of Kasese Municipality. According to information obtained from one of the local leaders Margret Biira Mafuta, Nzabalha was arrested on Sunday afternoon by UPDF soldiers after suspecting him to have stolen two goats.
Mafuta adds that on Monday local residents saw UPDF soldiers panicking around with the aim of returning his body to his home. “We highly suspect that the deceased was seriously tortured in army cells and when he died, soldiers wanted to sneak back his body to his home,” she says adding that residents were very alert and his body was taken back to army detach.
She further says that said that the area LC I chairperson went to the army detach and confirmed Nzabalha’s demise.
“I have learnt that Nzabalha had been arrested the previous day on the recommendations of the LC I chairperson, Hamada Njima, after he was reportedly found in possession of two goats. I’m wondering why he had to call the army to arrest the suspect instead of the police,” she said.
Captain Masumbuko Ssonko, the UPDF spokesperson in Rwenzori claimed that Nzabalha committed suicide in the army custody using his trouser to hang himself.
“The suspect was arrested by police in a joint operation with the UPDF and with the help of the area LC1 chairman. So when he was put in a military detention and he knew he was guilty, he decided to commit suicide perhaps on suspicion that we would harm him, which of course we could not do, because we would just hand him to police the following day,” he said.
Asked why the deceased was detained at the army facility, Capt Ssonko said police and the army normally work together and in some cases agree that the UPDF temporarily holds suspects especially during the night awaiting transfer to police the following the day.