Human rights lobby mulls taking police to court
By Rose Mwalongo
16th November 2011
The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) has written to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNM) requesting a medical report for Elias John (28) from Vijibweni, Dar es Salaam, who accuses the police of injecting his eyes with a liquid suspected to be acidic, leading to permanent blindness.
A legal officer at the LHRC’s Kinondoni legal aid clinic, Jeremiah Mtobesya, told The Guardian yesterday in an interview that the move had come about due to the expiration of a 90-day notice filed by the LHRC on July 17, this year.
“LHRC has already requested a medical report from the hospital before we prepare a plaint to demand compensation as indicated in the notice,” said Mtobesya.
The Guardian managed to talk to John’s brother who admitted to have received the letter, saying he had already sent it to MNH.
“I have just come from the hospital and they have told me to return tomorrow (Thursday),” he said.
On July 17, this year, the LHRC filed a 90-day notice to the government, demanding 493.4m/- compensation for John who is accusing the police of injecting a liquid suspected to be acidic into his eyes causing him permanent blindness.
The notice, a copy which was seen by The Guardian, was directed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and copied to the Attorney General and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs.
An advocate handling the case at the LHRC’s legal aid clinic confirmed that the legal officer had already handed over the copies to all parties and that they had all signed to confirm receiving the notice.
In the notice, John demands compensation for the psychological and physical torture which he sustained when he was in the hands of the police.
John alleges in the claim that he was arrested when he was fishing as his means of livelihood, something cannot do anymore.
He further sought compensation for medical and transport costs incurred in pursuing the case ever since he was blinded as well as for being permanently blind, the food sent to him at the time he was in prison, as well as a daily income he used to earn while fishing until an age he would have retired at 60.
In its notice, the LHRC sums up with the message: “Take notice that unless the total amount (493,423,500/-) being compensation for damages suffered by our client herein above demanded within the 90 days’ notice from the date of the service of this notice, our next step will be to institute legal proceedings for recovery of the same.”
The move has come after John sought legal assistance at the clinic claiming that on February 9, this year, police officers arrested him and six others and took him to Kilwa Road Police Station and later on to Minazini Police Station where they tied and handcuffed him before they injected his eyes with a liquid laced with acid leading to his permanent blindness.
“On February 19, last year, they took me to the Temeke District Court where I complained about the acid liquid incident but no one paid attention to me. I was taken to Keko remand prison and the following morning they took me to Temeke District Hospital for treatment,” John was quoted as saying.
He said doctors at the hospital said his eyes had been destroyed and referred him to Muhimbili National Hospital where he was admitted.
“They removed all my eyes because they were incurable and I was sent back to Keko. I was released on July 27, this year, after being found not guilty by the court,” he claims.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN