UGANDA: High profile unsolved assassinations; AIGP Kaweesi
One year later, Kaweesi murder investigation file remains empty
Written by URN (THE OBSERVER)
Exactly one year since senior police officer Andrew Felix Kaweesi was sprayed with bullets and killed, police has made no headway with the investigations.
Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Kaweesi was gunned down on the morning of Friday, March 17, 2017 a few metres away from his residence in Kulambiro, a Kampala suburb. Also killed in the mid morning ambush were Kaweesi’s driver, Godfrey Mambewa and body guard, Kenneth Erau. It is said Kaweesi was shot at about 27 times.
Police officers wheel Andrew Felix Kaweesi’s body into his home last year
The police force immediately launched investigations into the shooting and then Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura took direct management of the case as he had done with several high profile murder investigations before.
A year later, however, there seems to be no headway in the investigations and Gen Kayihura has left the police force. His 12 years as the top police officer ended yesterday, Thursday, when he formally handed over office to the new IGP Okoth Ochola.
Ochola has been Kayihura’s deputy for six years until March 4 when President Yoweri Museveni rang changes in his security apparatus, removing Kayihura as IGP and elevating Ochola to take over from him. The president also appointed Gen Elly Tumwiine as Security minister, replacing Lt. Gen Henry Tumukunde. Deputising Ochola is Brigadier Sabiiti Muzeyi formerly head of Military Police.
Kaweesi murder investigations has failed to proceed beyond the initial rounding up of suspects. Out of the more than 40 people initially arrested, 23 of whom were charged in court, only three have been linked to the shooting.
Of the three, two are believed to have sourced for the four shooters who were involved in the assassination of Kaweesi. Preliminary police investigations based on scene-of-crime analysis and testimonies from eyewitnesses indicate that there were four people directly involved in gunning down Kaweesi and his two handlers. Only one of the four suspects has since been arrested.
The four of them, made away from the crime scene using two motorcycles and three of them were spotted holding submachine guns.
Records on the investigation file indicate that only one of the suspected shooters identified as Aramazan Noordin Higenyi was arrested at the Uganda border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on March 21, the day of Kaweesi’s burial.
Two of the three suspects yet to be arrested are said to be of a close likeness to the composite sketches made immediately after the shooting of Kaweesi. Higenyi and the three others still at large are said to have been hired by two other suspects, Hassan Tumusiime and Abubaker Ntende, both charged in court for the murder.
The investigation file indicates that Tumusiime and Ntende confessed during interrogations at Nalufenya police detention facility in Jinja district that they had been asked by Kamwenge mayor Godfrey Byamukama to help him “get some assassins for a job.”
Statements in the murder investigations file quote Ntende as saying, “He [Byamukama] even took us to Kisaasi and showed us where he wanted his work done. I however didn’t know that he wanted them to kill a senior police officer.”
Byamukama came to the limelight after he was arrested by operatives of the Flying Squad on April 5, 2017, tortured and detained for over five months but later released on September 9, 2017 without any charge.
In May, more than a month after his arrest, photos of Byamukama with deep wounds on his body including scooped out knee caps believed to be as a result of torture, emerged.
He was then admitted at Nakasero hospital with the police footing the medical bills. He later told journalists that he was tortured from the notorious police detention facility at Nalufenya. The police later issued conflicting statements on the circumstances under which Byamukama sustained the injuries.
On the morning of May 12, then police spokesperson Asan Kasingye, who had taken over the role after Kaweesi’s death, issued a statement acknowledging that Byamukama was tortured at the hands of two police officers identified as Fred Tumuhiirwe and Ronnie Byenkya.
“At first we thought he would confess but after several interrogations and no success, our bosses had to let him go free,” a reliable source who was part of the investigations told URN.
Without Byamukama, the line of investigations that police pursued for so many months became impossible to complete.
“Byamukama definitely lacked intent to murder Kaweesi but our suspicion was that he had hired for someone else and that is the person we wanted,” the source who preferred anonymity said.
Plethora of charges
All the 24 suspects are charged with terrorism contrary to Section 7(1) (a) and 2 (b) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2002.
Seven of the suspects face additional charges of murder contrary to section 188 and 189 of the Penal Code Act; 11 are charged with being accomplices and seven are charged with aggravated robbery contrary to Section 285 and 286 of the Penal Code Act.
Kaweesi’s car bearing bullet scarsMore empty files
URN has also learnt that a month before Kayihura was fired President Museveni had summoned him to State House and asked him to explain the status of the Kaweesi murder investigations.
Museveni also wanted to know why the investigations into the killing of senior principal state attorney Joan Kagezi, Muslim clerics and Major Muhammad Kiggundu had not yielded results. Kagezi was gunned down on March 30, 2015 in Kiwatule, outside Kampala, in almost similar fashion as the Kaweesi shooting.
She had parked her car on the roadside to buy fresh fruits from a vendor. In the car were her three children when an unidentified gunman went off a motorcycle, shot her three times, got back on the motorcycle and rode off with hurriedly.
It is this method that was used in the killing of several Muslim clerics in different districts all over the country. On November 26, 2016, this same method was employed in Masanafu, Kampala, when Major Kiggundu was gunned down alongside his bodyguard Steven Mukasa.
Ironically, Kaweesi, who was police spokesperson and human resource development director, had vowed that the police would find Kiggundu’s killers and bring them to book. In the investigations into the assassination of Kiggundu, police has since hit a dead end and is back to step one.
In September 2017, Flying Squad released the only suspect who had been arrested for the alleged murder of Kiggundu. The suspect had been arrested following information given by the wife that he had been behind the shooting.
After the murder, Kayihura swung into action and arrested more than 10 suspects most of whom were most were released unconditionally while others were charged with very different crimes. By December 2017, the file remained empty.
The same month, the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) arrested a suspect that allegedly was involved in the Kiggundu murder. Abdul Semmujju Minana, a former police operative, was arrested after one of his confidants leaked information about him to CMI.
It is still unclear whether Minana is still in military custody or was finally released. As new officers Ochola and Muzeyi take over police, they find empty murder files of Kaweesi, Kiggundu, Kagezi and several Muslim clerics as well as thousands of criminal investigations files.