Seven LDUs convicted for assaulting civilians

KAMPALA – Seven Local Defense Unit (LDU) personnel and one civilian have been convicted over assaulting members of the public during the enforcement of the Presidential directives on COVID-19 pandemic.

Six of the accused have been sentenced to two months in prison while the other who was charged with two counts, sentenced to six months. The civilian was sentenced to two years in jail.

The accused men appeared before the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) 1st Infantry Division court-martial at Kakiri Division headquarters in Wakiso district Tuesday.

The five-man court, chaired by Col. Sam Mugyenyi convicted the men and sentenced them after they all pleaded guilty to the offences.   

The accused included Godfrey Bango (Ax012213), Paul Lumansi (AX 014257), Boaz Onyango (Ax016445) attached to Kampala Central Battalion.

Others were Emmanuel Mulenzi (AX 014882), Benson Niyagaba (AX015432 ) and Grievance Okolongo (AX 34137), attached to Kawempe Battalion.

According to prosecution, led by Capt. Katigan Mugisha, the accused persons, while in Kampala and Kawempe divisions assaulted civilians on the 26th and 30th March 2020, respectively. 

He told court that the act was against the laws of Uganda under Section 119 of the Penal Code Act and that their actions were against the established UPDF Code of conduct which portrayed UPDF as a brutal force.

He appealed to court to give the accused persons an appropriate sentence for their actions. 

The accused persons pleaded guilty and were convicted on their own plea.

Merian Kensime, the defense counsel prayed to court to give the accused a lighter sentence on grounds that the charge against them was a misdemeanor.

She said they were first time offenders who had not wasted the court’s time and looked repentant and remorseful. She told court that the accused persons also had families to look after.

The seventh LDU Rashid Mulaalo was charged on two counts, which included desertion from the force and common assault.

He was convicted on the second count and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Court could not hear the first charge on reason that hearing of such a capital offence required the presence of the seven members who constitute a full quorum.

Emmanuel Atuzarirwe, the only civilian and an employee of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) was accused of wearing a UPDF plain uniform during the time he committed the offence, contrary to Section 164 of the UPDF Act.  He was too convicted on his own plea and sentenced to two years imprisonment. 

Court, however, could not hear the case against the other LDU personnel, Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Okwi, attached to Kawempe Battalion, who was charged with failure to execute his duty contrary to the UPDF Act.

The court chairman stated that the case against Okwir was capital in nature and needed the presence of the quorum of seven members.

He, however, said the convicts had a right to appeal to the General Court Martial within a period of 14 days.   

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