Soldier in Gulu shooting pleads guilty, apologises

Friday August 10 2018

Gen Andrew Gutti (pictured) convicted Odaga on

Gen Andrew Gutti (pictured) convicted Odaga on his own plea of guilty to each of the five counts before adjourning the court to Saturday August 11 when he will pass his judgment. FILE PHOTO 

By JULIUS OCUNGI & POLYCAP KALOKWERA

GULU. L/cpl Geoffrey Odaga, the soldier accused of shooting dead three people and injuring another person in Gulu Town last weekend, has pleaded guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery.
The suspect was charged with three counts of Murder, one count of attempted murder and one count of aggravated robbery before the General Court Martial sitting at Gulu District headquarters, chaired by Lt Gen Andrew Gutti.

L/cpl Odaga, 47, deployed at the 4th Division Army headquarters in Gulu District, had on Thursday pleaded not guilty to the charges read to him by Gen Gutti, before the court was adjourned to Friday.
Court heard that on August 4, 2018 at about 11:30pm, L/cpl Odaga, a serving UPDF soldier, with malice caused death of Denis Richard Ochen, Fred Yasin and Sunday Wokorach Ouma at Smiling Panda 2 bar located at Kabedo Opong village, Bardege Division in Gulu District.

The prosecution also contends that Odaga attempted to unlawfully cause the death of Jimmy Ojok and committed aggravated robbery by stealing four bottles of senator beers and Shs61,500.
However while appearing before the same case on Friday, L/cpl Odaga changed his earlier plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty before asking for forgiveness from the aggrieved families.
“I have understood and accepted the charges read to me very well,” L/cpl Odaga responded after being asked by Gen Gutti whether he understood and accepts the charges read to him.

Gen Gutti convicted Odaga on his own plea of guilty to each of the five counts before adjourning the court to Saturday August 11 when he will pass his judgment.

Hefty punishment
Capt Samuel Masereje, the alternate state Prosecutor in his submission prayed that court gives a hefty punishment to the suspect to act as a deterrent to other soldiers in the UPDF from carrying such heinous acts.
He said the suspects’ acts caused the death of young citizens who were still useful for the country and bread winners for their families and that their children and loved ones won’t be able to see them again.
“You are a trained soldier in the UPDF, you earn salary, this government has entrusted you to serve and protect citizens, but you instead killed three people and seriously injured one and shamelessly proceeded to demand six bottles of beers while putting others at gun-point,” Capt Masereje said.

Leniency
The accused’s defence lawyer Capt Ssekayita however asked court to be lenient in its verdict since the accused had no criminal background and has ailing condition after being diagnosed with Hepatitis B, HIV/Aids and Diabetes.
“The accused has been in the force for 22 years and served a total of 25 missions in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic without criminal background. He is the sole bread winner of his five children, we pray that when this honorable court is passing its verdict, it should be lenient to him,” Capt Ssekayita said.

Soldier apologises
He also told court that Odaga apologized to the families of the deceased and asked to be forgiven for the crime he committed.

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