Seven UPDF Soldiers Sentenced for Assaulting Journalists

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Seven soldiers who were part of a group that assaulted journalists yesterday as they covered National Unity Platform-NUP president’s petition to the United Nations have been charged and convicted for conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces. 

In a statement released by UPDF deputy spokesperson Lt Col Deo Akiiki, the seven have been sentenced to between two and three months.

“The military police unit disciplinary committee, the lower court of the court martial, today has convened and deliberated on its officers and militants who misbehaved and assaulted members of the fourth estate at Prince Charles Lane in Kololo Kampala,” the statement reads in part. 

It however doesn’t mention whether the Court was open to the public or not as many journalists learnt about the charging and sentencing after the release of the statement.Curiously too, it is not stated whether the accused pleaded guilty or not guilty to the charges. Also more curiously, the most relevant witnesses who were at the crime scene, the assaulted journalists were not called to testify.  

The UDC, according to the statement was presided over by its chairman Lt Col Gai Mpandwa who found; Capt Jessy Odwenyi, Cpl Nimusiima Justine, Pte Wasswa Peter, Pte Tsame Imran, Pte Kisakye Victoria, Pte Opiyo Isaac and Lance Corporal Zirimenya Kassim culpable of the offence.

Other than Zirimenya who was sentenced to 60 days in prison, Nimusiima who was sentenced to ‘severe reprimand and caution,’ Kisakye and Opiyo who were sentenced to 62 and 60 days respectively, the rest were sentenced to three months at Makindye military prison. 

“The chairman warned the culprits and the entire military police at large to always observe discipline and professionalism while on any deployment,” the statement says. “He also added that the above officers’ and militants’ sentences will act as a deterrent measure to officers and militants while executing their constitutional mandate.”  

A number of journalists were wounded, some seriously, as they covered Kyagulanyi’s petition to the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights alleging torture ofhis supporters.

The Chief of Defense Forces, Gen David Muhoozi today apologized to the media for the incident and promised to meet medical bills for those affected. The UN yesterday called for an investigation into the matter with the view of bringing the perpetrators to justice.