Mogadishu-Somalia: The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) General Court Martial (GCM) which traditionally conducts business at Makindye, is currently holding court sessions in Mogadishu the capital city of Somalia.
The General Court Martial under the Chairmanship of Brig Gen Robert Freeman Mugabe, has now spent one week at Sector One Contingent headquarters trying UPDF personnel alleged to have committed capital offences.
The GCM so far is hearing a case involving two senior officers at the rank of major, who are charged with two counts; cowardice in action contrary to section 120 (1) (2) (a) of the UPDF Act 2005 and count two; Offenses by persons in command when in action contrary to section 128 (1) (b) of the UPDF Act of 2005.
Particulars of the offences state that Maj Steven Oluka 47 years and Maj Zadock Obor on or around the 25th to 27th of May 2023, while deployed as Officer Commanding companies in Bulomarer and Golweyne, did not encourage officers and militants under their command to fight courageously upon coming into contact with Alshabaab.
Other cases that the GCM is trying include; failure to protect war materials contrary to section 122 (1) (2) (h) of the UPDF Act which involves four Non – Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs).
When asked why GCM relocated to Mogadishu, Brig Gen Freeman Mugabe said, they decided to sit at Basecamp-Mogadishu to access witnesses in the cases since most of them were in the mission area. “Secondly, the General Court Martial has jurisdiction to try cases anywhere in and outside Uganda where UPDF is operating,” said Brig Gen Mugabe. He added that according to the UPDF Act of 2005, the GCM has jurisdiction to try cases which are capital in nature.
Brig Gen Freeman Mugabe further explained that the Memorandum of Understanding and the Status of Forces Agreement with the Host nation Somalia provides that each Troop Contributing Country has to try her own personnel while in the mission area. As such, crimes committed by UPDF personnel are tried by UPDF General Court Martial.
The GCM will be in Somalia for two weeks hearing cases and at the end of the sessions, those who will be found guilty will be given appropriate sentences and those found not guilty will be acquitted. However, judgements will depend on the circumstances under which the offences were committed and pieces of evidence that will be brought to court.