Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda Radio Network-URN has obtained details of the five soldiers convicted last week by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF General Court Martial sitting in Mogadishu for killing civilians in Somalia.
The convicts are R0/13537 Captain Charles Asiimwe, RA164787 Corporal Edison Bwambale, RAV/171317 Corporal Alexander Babu, RAV/149245 Lance Corporal Phillip Ichumar, and RAV/121276 Private Kerere Tushemereirwe.
According to the judgement, the military court chaired by Lt General Andrew Gutti handed Captain Charles Asiimwe and Edison Bwambale, death sentences while Alexander Babu, Phillip Ichumar, and Kerere Tushemereirwe earned themselves 39 years in jail.
Gen. Gutti convicted the accused persons after finding them guilty of shooting Somalian nationals to death and desecrating their bodies using homemade explosives. Those killed are Mar Hassan Warsame, Abdullahi Abdulle Hilowle, Mohamed Osman Ali, Mohamed Yonis, Hajow Abdirahman Nour, Hassan Mohamed Haji, and Muhamud Mahad Hashi.
Details in the judgment show that the convicts were from 111 Battalion of Battle Group 32 attached to the Golweyn Forward Operating Base under the African Union Mission in Somalia-AMISOM. It is alleged that on the fateful day, the convicts had gone to deliver logistics to their colleagues they were supposed to meet midway to Beldamin.
However, along the way, the convicts received information indicating that the team they had gone to meet had been attacked. The judgment shows that the convicts rounded up seven Somali civilians who claimed that they were the triggermen and eventually shot them dead. They used some of the explosive devices found in the possession of the civilians to desecrate their bodies.
“They laid the bodies of the deceased persons on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and detonated it causing mutilation of the said bodies. This caused a massive uproar that led to protests of Somali civilians in Golweyn area”, reads the judgment in part.
This led to the arrest of the suspects and their subsequent prosecution in the General Court Martial sitting in Somalia on November 5, 2021. They were charged with seven counts of murder, which they denied. However, court records show that the prosecution adduced evidence from seven people including senior officers in the UPDF in Somalia to pin the convicts.
“Counsel further submitted that when PW3 (Prosecution Witness number three) Capt. Vicente Benda asked A1 (Asiimwe) whether he was still with the people he arrested, A1 told him that he had received orders from above and could not explain the whereabouts of the arrested persons”, reads the judgment in part.
Adding, “In addition to the above submissions from Counsel for the State and accused persons, this court takes note of the testimonies of Pte. Opolot Emmanuel and Pte. Ainobushoborozi Abraham, which essentially was that A3 Cpl. Babu Alexander was their EOD (Explosive Ordinance Device) Commander and he is the one who gave them the orders to detonate the Improvised Explosive Devices”.
According to the records, Babu went with Asiimwe and stayed with him for about 40 minutes before detonating the second Improvised Explosive Device. The prosecution witnesses also informed the court that on the fateful day, the convoy patrol from Golweyn to Beldamin was never attacked by Al-Shabab as the convicts had claimed.
Accordingly, the court noted that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and convicted the accused persons. Highly placed security sources told URN on condition of anonymity that UPDF airlifted the convicts to Uganda on November 15, 2021.
They are currently locked up at Makindye Military Police Barracks pending their transfer to a government prison to commence their respective sentences. However, the convicts have a right to appeal the General Court Martial before the Court Martial Appellate Court.