Ugandan police make preliminary statements about the murder of David Kato

Those investigating the murder of David Kato are leaning away from the crime being related to bias against gays. This according to a statement read today at the Uganda Media Centre and reported in the government owned New Vision.

THE Police are holding one person in connection with yesterday’s murder of David Kisuule Kato, who has been one of the activists campaigning against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

The Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura, however, said the murder was an act of robbery and not connected to Kato’s campaign against the Bill.

Kato, 46, was hit on the head with a hammer by unknown assailants at his home in Bukasa-Kyetume in Nakisunga sub-county, Mukono district.

According to residents, Kato was killed at around 2:00pm on Wednesday by three men who were travelling in a saloon car.

“The circumstances surrounding this incident have no indication regarding Kato’s campaign against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill before Parliament,” said Kayihura in a statement read to the media by the deputy Police spokesperson, Vincent Ssekate, at the Uganda Media Centre.

Kato has been a member of the Sexual Minorities Uganda. Police said a suspect, Arnold Ssenoga, who was a driver to the deceased, had been arrested and is being held at the Rapid Response Unit headquarters in Kireka.

Police are also on the hunt for another suspect, identified as Enock Nsubuga, who is at large.

Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba, who visited the murder scene, said a team of detectives from the Police headquarters had been assigned to handle the case in view of the interest it had generated in the international community. “We have not yet established the intention of the assailants, but the Police are investigating the matter,” Nabakooba said.

According to a copy of the statement I received, Inspector General Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura made an effort to present Uganda in a good light, saying:

As police investigations are continuing, the public is asked to disregard any insinuations that have been attributed to this unfortunate incident. Uganda is a peaceful country and any crime of any nature is taken seriously and to its conclusive end.

One should take care in interpreting these preliminary statements. Given the international scrutiny on this crime as well, the Ugandans might have an incentive to minimize bias toward gays. On the other hand, international observers might experience a rush to judgment.