The police said yesterday they had started investigating the officer who beat up The New Times (TNT)’s photographer, George Baryamwisaki, on Tuesday evening.
Baryamwisaki a.k.a Barya and staff colleague Ignatius Ssuuna faced the wrath of the police officer while covering a story of hawkers being chased off the streets in Remera.
The officer roughed up Barya, handcuffed, kicked and beat him up as he took him and Ssuuna to Remera Police Station. The two journalists were detained at the station for hours before senior The New Times’ editors intervened to have them released.
“We are investigating the case. The policeman in question claims Barya provoked him first,” Police Spokesperson, Inspector Willy Marcel Higiro said yesterday.
The officer, whose identity hasn’t been disclosed, claimed he was annoyed that Barya took his photograph as he arrested hawkers without his permission.
Higiro advised the journalists to officially report the case to police as investigations into the incident continue.
He said that they will talk to the people who were at the scene, including Ssuuna and another policeman.
He added that when the police wanted to talk to Barya the following day, he had gone to the hospital for treatment.
He also claimed that he was yet to get identity of the assaulting police officer.
On Wednesday, the Commissioner General of Police, Andrew Rwigamba had also promised to investigate the incident.
The incident happened after Barya photographed the policeman trying to forcefully arrest city hawkers, and confiscate their business clothes outside Giporoso Taxi Park in Remera, a Kigali City suburb.
The roundup of vendors in the area happened at a time Barya and Ssuuna were at the scene covering a story about hawkers’ business. The journalists say the policeman was enraged by Barya photographing, and then turned his gun against The New Times scribes.
The armed policeman roughed up Barya, handcuffed him and ordered him to walk with him to the police station.
“As we were walking to the station, he (the policeman) continued to slap and punch Barya, who was handcuffed,” Ssuuna said.
When Barya suggested the photos to be deleted in exchange for his freedom, the enraged policeman slapped him more.