At least seven Local Defence Units- LDU personnel have been sentenced to two months in military prison for brutality.
Uganda People’s Defence Forces -UPDF First Infantry Division court-martial on Tuesday heard, convicted and sentenced seven LDUs and one civilian at Kakiri Division headquarters.
The accused who appeared before a five-member court team under the chairmanship of Col Sam Mugyenyi, assaulted street vendors in Kampala and other places claiming that they were implementing President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Covid-19 directives.
Captain Katigan Mugisha, the Court prosecutor submitted that LDUs who include Bango Godfrey, Lumansi Paul, Onyango Boaz, all of Kampala central battalion and Mulenzi Emmanuel, Niyagaba Benson and Okolongo Grievance of Kawempe battalion, while in Kampala and Kawempe divisions beat up civilians on March 26 and 30 respectively.
Capt. Mugisha said the LDUs’ actions went against the laws of Uganda under section 119 of the penal code act.
The LDUs pleaded guilty and were convicted on their plea. Kensime Merian, the defence counsel asked for a lighter sentence on grounds that common assault was a misdemeanour, the accused were first offenders, did not waste court’s time, were repentant and remorseful, and had families to fend for.
Kensime’s submission was interjected by prosecutor Capt Mugisha basing on the fact that the actions of the accused went against the established UPDF code of conduct which portrayed UPDF as a brutal force. He, therefore, prayed for an appropriate sentence against the accused.
Col Mugyenyi after deliberations with other court members sentenced the six accused to two months detention.
However, another LDU Mulaalo Rashid was charged on two counts, desertion and common assault.
Mulaalo was convicted on the second count and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment. The court could not hear the first charge since hearing of a capital offence required the presence of the 7 member quorum.
Col Mugyenyi’s Court also heard charges against civilian Atuzarirwe who was found wearing a UPDF plain uniform contrary to section 164 of the UPDF act.
Atuzarirwe was convicted on, his plea and sentenced to two years imprisonment. Several civilians, on several occasions, have been arrested donning uniforms, an act against the law.
Not only LDUs were charged but even some of their commanders. Lance Corporal Okwi Emmanuel of Kawempe battalion was charged with failure to execute one’s duty contrary to the UPDF act.
Okwi’s case could not be heard by a five-member court since its capital in nature. The convicts have 14 days to appeal the convictions to the General court-martial.