In what turned out to be baseless, 2 representatives of Israel Weapons Industry were jailed in harsh conditions and abused & tortured during their 11 days of incarceration, after being arrested for illegal weapons possession.
By Itamar Eichner
Two Israeli representatives of the Israel Weapons Industry (IWI) were arrested in Uganda and held in harsh conditions for almost two weeks on the suspicion they were illegally possessing weapons in what turned out to be a completely baseless arrest.
It took 11 days for a Ugandan Supreme Court judge to call for the immediate release of the men and reprimand the officials who arrested them. The men had held a demonstration of the same weapons they were being charged with illegally holding to high-ranking members of the Ugandan army 8 months earlier.
Dotan Regev, one of the owners of Israeli security company Hercules Support Limited, was one of the Israelis arrested. Regev’s company has been working in Uganda for three years and provides security services for banks and various other establishments. The other Israeli detainee, Assaf (full name withheld), is a security guard working for Regev’s company.
The two men were arrested two weeks ago when they were picking up their British counterpart Paul Simon at the airport. Simon was also arrested.
“They held us in rough conditions for two days and did not let us eat or drink. It was very difficult. A Ugandan officer hit Assaf and put his finger in his eye. They tried to treat us like criminals,” said Regev.
During the first two days of their detention, Ugandan authorities did not send a formal message on the arrest to the relevant embassies: Israel, Britain, and the United States. One of the Israelis is a dual Israeli-American citizen.
The families of the men who were arrested immediately turned to the Israeli Embassy in Kenya, which is responsible for Ugandan affairs, as well as the US and British embassies.
The embassies then began to put pressure on Uganda to immediately release the men.
After five days of detention, the men were taken to a court in Uganda’s capital Kampala, where they were first informed of the charges on which they were being held.
Police said they were suspected of illegal possession of weapons. However, a quick search showed that the said weapons were light weapons used in demonstrations. The Israeli company and officials of the IWI had held demonstrations of the weapons for the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ugandan army and other military leadership 8 months earlier.
The weapons were brought into the country with all the necessary permits from the IDF and Ugandan army.
It was also revealed that the weapons where left in the hands of the Ugandan army and were not even in the possession of the three men and therefore the suspicions of illegal arms possession had no basis.
Represented by Israeli international lawyer Mordechai Tzivin, the two Israelis claimed in court that they were arrested because of false reports that a competing Israeli security firm made. Regev claimed that the competing firm paid politicians in order to try and ruin their business.
“A competing company caused us this damage, with use of financial and political force,” said Regev after his release. “They led government officials to get incorrect information.”
The court accepted the position of the detainees, but the police created difficulties that delayed the release of the three men.
Progress in the discussions was only made after the file was sent to the Supreme Court. The judge reprimanded the arrest and treatment of the three men and ordered their immediate release.
She prohibited the police from arresting the men again, and noted that the men are liable to sue the investigators who tortured them.
Even after the order was issued, police prevented the men from leaving the country for a couple of days and insisted on taking them to the airport in handcuffs.
Paul Simon, the British man arrested, was arrested again on suspicion of illegally bringing arms into the country and is still in detention.
Regev complained of harsh treatment by the authorities in Uganda.
“It caused a severe diplomatic crisis,” he said. “The police committed so many crimes against us that the judge wrote that we are entitled to sue the state for torture. We intend to file a huge lawsuit in the International Court.”
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4592331,00.html