By Pascal Kwesiga
The army court of appeal has got a busy schedule to clear appeals filed by four senior UPDF officers challenging the convictions and sentences against them by the General Court Martial.
The officers argue that the General Court Martial erroneously sentenced them on wrong charges and uncorrelated evidence.
Some also argue that the court that sits in Makindye, a Kampala suburb, tried them under wrong sections of the UPDF Act, and that it disregarded their evidence.
Lt. Col. John Kaye was sentenced last month to 10 years for murdering a man who drove his wife to their home in Nalumunye in Wakiso district in 2011.
Under the UPDF Act, a sentence of two years in jail and beyond involves dismissal from the forces with disgrace.
Soldiers dismissed from the army with disgrace are not entitled to retirement packages and pension.
Kaye, through his lawyer, Kiyemba Mutale, argues that the court chaired by Maj. Gen. Elly Karuhanga, disregarded his evidence showing the man he killed in “self-defense” – Steven Kabuye attempted to disarm his body guard before he descended on him (Kaye).
Kaye is relying on a medical report authored by a police pathologist, Dr. Bernard Ndiwalana, who established that the convict had a bruise below one of his shoulders.
Ndiwalana also said that the blood stains found on a shirt Kaye was reportedly wearing during the incident was from the convict.
Kaye insists that Kabuye engaged him in a scuffle as he reportedly tried to disarm him, and that his gun went off during the brawl.
Col. Hassan Kimbowa, the former commander of Uganda battle group 11+ was sentenced to 10 months in jail for issuing 5,400 liters of diesel fuel to Somalis (third parties) without permission from the UN coordinator of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in 2013.
He argues that there is no provision that required him to consult the mission coordinator to share logistics with Somalis they went to protect against al-shabaab in the Horn of Africa nation.
He also argues that Somalis are not third parties to the mission because they are the reason why peacekeepers are in Somalia. Kimbowa insists that he shared the fuel with informers, interpreters, a deputy governor, a district commissioner and Somali National Army during joint operations with UPDF.
Lt. Col. Benson Olanya, the ex-commander of UPDF’s 343 battalion in Somalia is also challenging a six-month jail term for diverting 720 liters of diesel fuel meant for AMISOM operations in 2013.
His lawyer, Maj. Ronald Iduli, argues that for the charge of diversion to stand up in court, the fuel should have been diverted from a convoy as provided for under UPDF Act. Olanya claims he shared fuel with informers, interpreters and a man who lent UPDF a generator when theirs broke down.
“Did they want my troops to starve without a generator to preserve food? This was fuel meant for me as a commander and I used it for the good of the mission and my forces. It cannot be diversion because it was not diverted from a convoy,” Olanya argues.
Maj. Alex Kirabo, the former Uganda military contingent transport officer wants the appeal court to overturn a sentence of six months in prison against him over failure to verify the United Nations Support Office for African Union Mission on Somalia (UNISOA) forms used to account for fuel in 2013.
The forms, according to court, contained false entries on fuel consumed by battle tanks which Kirabo failed to detect. The appeal court will begin handling the appeals on Friday.
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Four senior army officers appeal against sentences