By Simon Abaho
Two UPDF soldiers have been sentenced to death by the General Court Martial sitting in Mogadishu for killing innocent civilians in Somalia.
In an incident that happened last month, bodies of seven civilians were discovered after a heavy exchange of gunfire between the AMISOM forces and Al Shabaab militants along with the Beldamin-Golweyn Forward Operating Base in the Lower Shabelle region.
The exchange of gunfire followed an ambush by Al Shabaab militants as AMISOM soldiers patrolled the area.
An investigating team constituted by AMISOM recently found out that the soldiers operating in the Golweyn area in the Lower Shabelle region in Southern Somalia, about 110km south of Mogadishu, had on August 10 killed innocent civilians.
Consequently, Ugandans authorities were asked to the Ugandan government to punish the implicated soldiers has since promised
Our news desk has learnt that the General Court Martial chaired by Lt Gen Andrew Gutti earlier this month moved to Somalia where they held the trial of the UPDF soldiers implicated in the shooting.
According to the state-owned Radio Mogadishu, the army court handed a death sentence to two officers.
“Two of the accused soldiers, who are from Uganda, have been sentenced to death, while the other three each got 39 years in prison,” Radio Mogadishu reported on Friday evening.
The state-owned radio revealed that of the five tried and convicted, two officers who were sentenced to death included a captain and his deputy.
Radio Mogadishu further noted that the Somali Justice Minister, Abdikadir Mohamed has confirmed that three other soldiers had been sentenced to 39 years imprisonment after finding them guilty of killing seven innocent Somali civilians in Golweyn village.
According to many, the tough punishment is meant to send a warning to other officers to avoid being tempted to behave contrary to the AMISOM rules of engagement.
The UPDF has on several occasions given tough punishments to officers convicted of behaving contrary to its code of conduct and rules of engagement.
The army leadership has in the past insisted that whereas some officers have misbehaved, their acts are judged on an individual basis and don’t represent the values of the UPDF.
“We have mechanisms in place to penalize those who deviate from the establishment. When you go for an operation, there are rules of engagements and if you go out against these, you are penalized,” the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi said in an interview recently.