40 UPDF officers face trial over theft
Posted Wednesday, October 30 2013 at 02:00
KAMPALA- The number of UPDF officers accused of selling fuel and food meant for military operations in Somalia has risen from 24 to 40.
The increment followed President Museveni’s directive to extend and widen the scope of military intelligence investigations by interviewing foot soldiers to tell their experiences.
Earlier, the investigators were meeting operational commanders who include battalion and platoon commanders but now the investigations have been widened to include foot soldiers that were allegedly spending days without food and water.
The army spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, confirmed the increment in the number of the accused officers, saying the prosecutions will begin at the end of the investigations.
“The investigations are continuing and the investigators are identifying more people involved. The idea is that we will leave no stone unturned because the credibility of our institution and the image of our country are more important than these people who were involved,” he said.
Good work but...
UPDF has been praised for taking a lead role in pacifying Somalia and thousands of Somalis in exile are returning home to rebuild their country after 20 decades of insurgency but this corruption scandal has tainted Uganda’s image.
Col Ankunda said he could not give the time frame of when the investigations would be concluded before prosecutions begin, but said the legal team is preparing to start the trial process.
“Charges will be preferred by the legal officers. The charges will also depend on the investigations and on the mistakes committed by each officer,” he said.
There are allegations of UPDF selling bullets to al shabaab in Somalia but sources say these were bullets captured from Ugandans and Burundians at the frontline.
Top commanders likely to face trial include the former Ugandan Contingent commander, Brig Michael Ondoga, Contingent Intelligence Officer, Lt Col Sam Kirya and the Logistic officer, Capt Joy Atugonza.
Sources say food was being sold to private companies operating in main base camp of African Union Mission in Somalia.
Out of five African countries with troops in Somalia, Uganda has the highest number of forces with 6,000 military personnel deployed in central Somalia. Other countries with troops in Somalia include; Burundi, Kenya, Sierra Leon and Djibouti.