Jamil Mukulu, the alleged leader of the rebel Allied Democratic Forces-ADF has petitioned the International Crimes Division of the High Court to stop his trial for terrorism on grounds of torture.
Mukulu filed his petition together with his co-accused Muhamed Matovu and Omar Abdallah Mutuka on Wednesday against the Attorney General and Police Officer Francis Olugu. The trio is seeking to enforce their human rights that were violated while at the infamous Nalufenya detention before they were committed to High Court for trial.
The applicants are jointly charged with 36 others on 29 charges including murder, terrorism, aiding and abetting terrorism, and confessing to belonging to a terrorist group the ADF. It is alleged that between 2011 and 2014, the accused persons under the command of Mukulu acquired firearms and training in neighboring countries and funding for economic, social, political, and religious reasons.
The group is also accused of murdering Muslim clerics Sheikh Yunus Abubaker Mandana, and top Shia Cleric Dr. Abdulqadir Muwaya who was gunned down at his home in Mayuge district before they reportedly attacked Bugiri police station and killed four police officers including Karim Tenywa, Julius Owori, John Stephen Owori, Muzamir Babale, and LC3 Chairperson Tito Okware.
In their application filed by their lawyers led by Geoffrey Turyamusiima, the applicants say that they were picked up from Ukonga Remand prison in Tanzania on July 10th, 2015, and placed on a hired light aircraft operated by Tropical Air and piloted by two men of Asian origin and returned to Uganda following an extradition order.
The extradition order specifically indicates that the applicants were needed to answer for murder as agreed by the Attorney General of Tanzania and his then Ugandan Counterpart Fred Ruhindi. However, the applicants say that they were shocked when they were charged with other offenses Mukulu describes as political contrary to the extradition order issued by a Court in Tanzania.
“I feel unfairly treated and that this trial cannot be fair where a government undertakes to another government to try me on only murder charges then later turns around and includes terrorism and other charges. By proceedings and ruling and order of the Tanzania Court I was to only be charged with seven counts of murder,” said Mukulu.
According to Mukulu, after being locked up at Nalufenya, an ungazetted prison where he spent more than a year, he was subjected to all forms of torture including being forced to drink alcohol and eat pork, which contravenes his Islamic beliefs.
“At one point, they brought roasted pieces of pork and beer and forced them into my mouth. They also forcefully poured beer into my mouth while laughing, scorning me and saying, “Sheikh alidde embizzi nanywa omwenge” (literally meaning Sheikh has eaten pork and taken alcohol,” says Mukulu. He also explains one day one of the Police officers beat his right knee and dislocated it leaving him feeling terrible pain that he wouldn’t wish to feel again.
In his affidavit, Mukulu explains that three days toward the end of Ramadan in 2015, while in the middle of his prayers, a police officer he identifies as Afande Enoch busted into his cell and pushed him off the prayer mat.
“I nearly fell on the ground. Take away your Islam. Our government does not like Muslims, he shouted at me,” Mukulu quoted the officer saying. He adds that “on many occasions, as part of the torture, Enoch used to come back drunk and he could find me eating and sit beside me and start spitting saliva in my food.”
Mukulu also accuses another police officer, Francis Olugu of having taken from him 38,000 United States Dollars (145 million Uganda Shillings as an option of not urinating in his Quran. “It was approaching noon. He was dressed in light blue jeans, brown jungle boots, and green/yellow tracksuit jacket. On the table was a copy of the Holy Quran. It was open and looking at it, the open page was in the 4th Chapter. As psychological torture for Muslims, shamelessly; Francis Olugu plucked out a page from the Holy Quran, turned around, and faced the window that was in the room. Then he unzipped his jeans, pushed it down to his thighs including his pants, and wiped his buttocks and anus with the page he had plucked out of the Quran,” said Mukulu in the affidavit.
According to Mukulu, Olugu did this because he wanted to know where he had hidden his money prompting him to direct him where the money was and he stole it together with a camera as opposed to letting him urinate in the Quran. The evidence submitted to court shows that Mukulu was always driven at night and taken somewhere on a bad road with his eyes covered, legs and hands chuckled in a zig-zag way and thrown in a stream where he would later be returned to Nalufenya and forced to sleep without changing clothes.
“Those who threw me into the water stream were led by a UPDF Captain Francis Okumu. He has 12 fingers. He was also with some other tormentors like David Katunda who is now the District Police Commander of Masaka,” reads the court document.
The group reportedly commanded by Col Abel Wicha is alleged to have beaten Mukulu with batons with the words ‘bang ‘ as they shouted, “let me also beat the leader of ADF where would I find him?” He says that his tormentors would also release dogs at night to come at the window of his cells and start barking to deny him sleep.
Mukulu also says that officers used to strip him naked and force him to start dancing as they recorded the video. According to the court records, after drowning him one time in a stream, Francis Okumu tried to handcuff him in vain and started assaulting him in the jaws saying that he had gained weight because of being fed fish and lost his incisors.
The records further show that Mukulu’s tormentors kept him in handcuffs for several months and needed some chemicals to remove because of rusting. Now, Mukulu and his co-accused through their lawyer Turyamusiima want the Court to discharge them and order the respondents to facilitate or pay for their treatment and rehabilitation at the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture victims or any other similar facility.
The court is yet to summon the respondents to file their defense and fix the case for hearing.