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UPDF officer charged over death of 10 soldiers seeks bail

By Michael Odeng

Added 3rd August 2016 01:51 PM

Mutumbi was charged under section 134(1), 2(g), 123(1) and 2(d) of the UPDF Act

A senior UPDF officer who allegedly failed to protect his colleagues while on a mission in Somalia, resulting into death of 10 of them has asked the army court for bail, citing ill health.

On Tuesday, Lt. Col Bosco Mutumbi, 50, made the request through his lawyer Paul Kuteesa at the army General Court Martial in the city suburb of Makindye. 

Mutumbi, who has spent a month in custody, said he is suffering from diabetes, hypertension and cervical degenerative disc dieses.

"These ailments are very serious and cannot be managed while the accused is in custody," Kuteesa said.  He also disclosed that the accused had been referred to Nakasero Hospital for radiotherapy.

Kuteesa also asked court presided over by Lt. Gen Andrew Gutti to release the accused on bail on grounds that he is of advanced age and will not interfere with investigations and state witnesses. He added that the accused has a fixed place of abode at Kabowa in Rubaga division.

In his affidavit, Mutumbi stated that he is a senior UPDF officer who has faithfully served his nation for over 30 years. Mutumbi said he was willing to appear before court for mention of criminal proceedings against him.

The accused presented three people to stand surety for him. They are Brig. Gen David Wakalo, Col. Jude Ndyanabo and his brother Lt. Col. Charles Asiimwe. 

However, prosecution led by Capt. Samuel Masegere rejected the bail application, on grounds that the accused will interfere with the on-going investigations since most of the witnesses are his juniors.  

"Most of the witnesses have worked under the accused for 30 years and some are still under his control," Masegere said.

He also said that the accused had not presented to court a medical document certified by Military medical staffs, showing that his sickness cannot be handled while in custody.

Mutumbi, who was the commander of Battle Group 16 (BGXVI) in Somalia, is said to have ignored intelligence information which resulted into the Al Shabaab attacking Janale detachment and killing 10 UPDF soldiers.

Prosecution alleges that Mutumbi faces two counts of failure to execute one’s duty leading to death of fellow officers and failure to brief subordinate commanders to execute an operation against the Al Shabaab.

Mutumbi was charged under section 134(1), 2(g), 123(1) and 2(d) of the UPDF Act. If convicted of any of the charges, the accused faces death as the penalty.

Mugisha told court that between June and September 2015, Mutumbi was briefed about the vulnerability of Janale UPDF detachment to the Al Shabaab but he failed to relocate it.

Mutumbi also reportedly failed to provide support weapons, arms, ammunition, manpower and other equipment which resulted in Al Shabaab attacking the detachment on September 1, 2015, leading to loss of lives.

The UPDF officers who died are; Lt. David Etua Ondoma, Sgt. Charles Outa, Sgt. Charles Ojange, Sgt. Eddy Kakaire, Sgt. Abubaker Mugumya, Sgt. Emmanuel Wanyama, L/Cpl Andrew Engema, L/Cpl Phinius Ochowun, Pte. Isaac Okidi Lotyang and Pte. Geoffrey Kintu.

Following the incident, President Yoweri Museveni ordered for the arrest of the battalion commander of the UPDF sector in Janale (Mutumbi), company commanders and intelligence officers.

Janale is a town in Somalia lower Shabelle region which is 65 kilometres south west of Mogadishu the capital city of Sudan. 

President Museveni also wondered why the UPDF was not following its standard operational procedures (SQPs) which would have kept the AMISOM military base safe from attack.

The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Katumba Wamala also said the gallant fighters that regrettably passed on were part of a very strong team that heroically denied Al Shabaab its intended final target of gaining ground at Janale which had been liberated by AMISOM forces on February 14, 2013, to allow people rebuild their livelihood and country.

Prosecution further alleged that while at Celegalle in Somalia on August 27, 2015, Mutumbi failed to brief subordinate commanders for a planned operation against the Al Shabaab enemy at Tawakal Forest, which aborted.

This case has been adjourned to August 16, when court is expected to deliver its ruling on the bail application.

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