The 5th Division court martial has dismissed with disgrace some of the soldiers who were seen in a video clip flogging a suspect accused of stealing a motorcycle.
Corporal Odong Otto Richard Burton, the then Lagot Detach Commander, and Privates Mungu Acel Sunday, Ogwang Dennis, and Omara Martin Henry were charged with aggravated torture.
On Friday afternoon, four of the accused pleaded guilty to the charge of aggravated torture, while Omara Morris pleaded not guilty. Those who pleaded guilty were sentenced to one year in jail and dismissed from the army.
In an evening ruling, Col. Ismail Ssendagira, the chairman of the 5th Division Court Martial, acquitted Private Omara Morris after Corporal Odong Otto Richard Burton testified that Omara was not among them at the time of committing the crime.
In the court session held at Lagot Primary School, Lagot Village in Pajong Parish, Mucwini Sub-county, Kitgum district, Col. Ssendagire said the convicts have the right to appeal within 14 days to the General Court Martial in Kampala.
The sentence followed an incident where the convicts tortured Nelson Omon from Lagot military detach on December 10th, 2023 on camera, on allegations that he stole a motorcycle.
The video went viral on Tuesday, December 12th, causing uproar. In response to the public outcry, the UPDF moved swiftly to arrest all the suspects. The four will serve their jail term at Lira Government Prison.
Two other suspects, Christopher Ongee, the Mucwini sub-county Chairperson, and Simon Obonyo, the GISO Mucwini Sub County, who are at Kitgum Central Police Station will be tried at Kitgum Magistrate’s cour.
Acts of torture are criminalized under the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture ACTV, 2012 (PPTA), where a penalty for a case of torture attracts a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment, and life imprisonment for aggravated Torture.
Torture according to the law means any act or omission, by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of any person whether a public official or other person acting in an official or private capacity for such purposes as—(a)obtaining information or a confession from the person or any other person;(b)punishing that person for an act he or she or any other person has committed, or is suspected of having committed or of planning to commit; or(c)intimidating or coercing the person or any other person to do, or to refrain from doing, any act.