Nine Ugandan soldiers accused of misconduct while serving the Africa Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) were found guilty by court martial sitting in Mogadishu.A statement from AMISOM said on Tuesday that the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) Divisional Court Martial sitting in Mogadishu handed sentences ranging from a year to three years in prison. The chairman of the court, Brig Gen Dick Olum, who handed over the sentences, also warned that the Ugandan military will not tolerate any incident of misconduct among its officers serving in peacekeeping missions. “The prosecution has proved all the accusations of pursuing personal interest and endangering operational efficiency beyond reasonable doubt. The accused persons are hereby convicted of the charges against them,” Olum said.
The nine are part of 18 soldiers who were earlier arraigned before the same court for selling fuel belonging to the mission. They were charged after five soldiers were arrested in June, in connection with the illicit sale of fuel in a scam involving civilians in Mogadishu.
However, out of the 18, two pleaded guilty and were immediately charged, six were acquitted and one turned into a state witness, leaving the nine, who had denied any wrongdoing, to face trial.
The soldiers were found guilty of pursuing personal interest and endangering operational efficiency of the UPDF. They will serve imprisonment in Uganda, but three of them were dismissed with disgrace from the army.
Olum defended the penalties, saying the soldiers had not only damaged the image of the UPDF and AMISOM but had also endangered the lives of others.
“The sentence … is a deterrent sentence. It is a sentence that sends out a message to the rest of military personnel whether back at home or in any other mission out of the country,” he said.