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Court Martial convenes in Somalia to try UPDF soldiers

By Tajuddin
Aug 4th, 2016
Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Divisional Court Martial.

Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Divisional Court Martial.

Mogadishu,Somalia (DIPLOMAT.SO) – The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) Divisional Court Martial today convened in Mogadishu, to try soldiers alleged to have engaged in various forms of misconduct.

The Divisional Court Martial is constituted by the UPDF high command and is charged with the trial of cases of misconduct committed by soldiers serving in missions out of the country, for example, Somalia and Central African Republic.

The court martial sitting in Mogadishu is chaired by Brig. General Dick Olum who explained that the sitting is being held under the mandate of the UPDF and not AMISOM, because Troop Contributing Countries are authorized by the African Union to tackle cases of indiscipline committed by their officers.

“Any soldier who comes to serve under AMISOM, as per African Union standards is charged by the law of his country back home. AMISOM doesn’t have a legal court,” Gen Olum said.

The court martial is currently trying a case in which 18 soldiers were charged pursuing personal interests, endangering the operational efficiency of troops. It emanates from an incident in which five soldiers were arrested in June, this year, over illicit sale of fuel in a racket that included civilians in Mogadishu. The fuel in question was over 10,000 litres.

One of the accused, Major Bob Francis Aring, who was a transport officer pleaded guilty to the charges, conceding to having failed to take charge of a vehicle under his supervision, which was in turn used by officers under his command in the illegal sale of fuel. The Court Martial in its sentence demoted him to the rank of Captain in addition to a year in detention. The hearing of the case for other suspects is already underway with 10 prosecution witnesses presented so far.

The chairperson of the court says it is being convened in Somalia to send a clear message to all serving UPDF soldiers that they must uphold high standards of discipline while serving under AMISOM or any other mission

“We thought that this is the best way for people like you to follow what is happening here. We thought the leaders of AMISOM should also know what is happening, because you may think when we go home, we don’t charge them. So we want it to be clear to all Ugandan soldiers who are in Somalia, Central African Republic, in Sudan that if you commit a crime, you will be charged,” Brig. Gen. Olum stated.

The Prosecution team is led by Major Fredrick Kangwamu while Lt. Lilian Tugume is leading the defence team.

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