Defense witness shares a horrifying account of police torture in the case against Freeman Mbowe

Defense witness shares a horrifying account of police torture in the case against Freeman Mbowe

CHADEMA Chair-Freeman Mbowe

The first defense witness in a minor case that emanated from the primary case against the chair of Tanzania’s main opposition party (CHADEMA) Mr Freeman Mbowe and three others, on Friday told the court that while under police custody he suffered torture, including a gunshot wound. Adam Kasekwa had taken the stand after State lawyers told the court that they had no further evidence to submit in Friday’s proceedings. Defense lawyers John Malya, Peter Kibatala and Nashon Nkungu went ahead to defend Kasekwa’s testimony, by telling the court that he was indeed tortured for almost the entire time he was in police custody last year.

The court heard that the first time Kasekwa was arrested was in Moshi-Eastern Tanzania, where he had gone to meet CHADEMA chair Freeman Mbowe, with the aim of setting up a contractual agreement on some security work that Mbowe had wanted him to perform. Kasekwa, a former official of the Tanzania People’s Defense Force, further stated that while he was in Rahu Madukani area situated within Moshi with his co- accused, Mohamed Ling’wenya, he was attacked by a group of five assailants who beat him down thoroughly and later apprehended him. Mr Ling’wenya would try to ask the assailants why they had descended on Kasekwa, but his intervention fell on deaf ears. Kasekwa who told the court that the incident took place on August 5, 2020, added that after his arrest, he had overheard one of his captors tell his colleagues that they had found him in possession of drugs and a weapon, which he added was not true and a mere fabrication of facts. In fact Kasekwa would tell the court that the assailants had pinned to him the drugs and pistol as false evidence.

Kasekwa went ahead to further narrate what is a horrifying story that left the court in silence; he recounted that during the time he had found himself in police custody at Moshi police station, he was stripped naked, hang to a pole, and then tortured and beaten down again for about 30 to 45 minutes; he would later be left in a state where he could hardly walk. He told the court that he also witnessed unidentified official pour water into the prison cell where he had been held, in what is thought to be perhaps an attempt to clear off traces of his torture.

As he proceeded with his testimony, Kasekwa told the court that on the night of August 6, he was blindfolded and ferried out of the Moshi police station. Later on he would find himself at the Tazara Police station in Dar es Salaam; he would only learn where he was at the time, after inquiring from persons whom he had found at the station. On August 9, 2020 at night he was blindfolded again and then ferried to another destination, only to find himself at the country’s Mbweni Police Station, where he said he met the first State witness, Regional Police Commander APC Ramadhani Kingai. Kasekwa told the court that Kingai would coerce him to append a signature on papers whose purpose and details he was not privy to.

APC Ramadhani Kingai on Wednesday this week told the court that he was the one who recorded Kasekwa’s statement upon being apprehended, and went ahead to ask the court to admit it as evidence. The request was strongly opposed by lead defense counsel Peter Kibatala who asked the court not to admit the statement because it was not made voluntarily. The defense lawyers claimed the accused gave the statement after he was tortured under the supervision of Mr Kingai, and indeed today (Friday), the court was left in shock upon hearing Kasekwa’s account of the alleged torture.

Adam Kasekwa served in Tanzania People’s Defense Force within the KJ Command squad, based in Sangasanga, Morogoro Region for about 6 years. He was relieved of his duties following health complications he developed after his return from a peacekeeping mission in Congo.

Freeman Mbowe, Adam Kasekwa and two others, are facing charges related to Economic Sabotage and terrorism. The court proceedings have been adjourned until September 27, 2021.

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