Photos taken by official photographers show how Ugandan dictator exploited media ‘to amplify ego and political will’

For decades he has been reviled as a simple-minded and sadistic dictator, or lampooned as a clownish thug.

Now tens of thousands of newly discovered images have shown how Idi Amin exploited cutting-edge media technology, populism and radical ideologies to maintain his bloody grip on power in the 1970s.

Most of the 70,000 pictures were taken by a team of photographers from the information ministry who followed the Ugandan dictator over the course of his eight-year rule. Many show Amin at public occasions, but some are of private episodes, such as the arrest and humiliation of alleged petty criminals shortly before their execution.

Others are more intimate, showing the dictator with his family or close associates, and were taken by officials and associates. Amin is seen with his children surrounded by Christmas decorations, playing the accordion and swimming.