The second division court martial has convicted two UPDF soldiers for alleged desertion. They are private Emmy Arinaitwe and Lance Corporal Wilberforce Kato, both attached to the second Division army headquarters in Makenke in Mbarara Municipality. The second division court martial chaired by Colonel Geoffrey Mujuni heard on Friday that Arinaitwe was attached to the 2nd Division before he was deployed under the African Union Peace keeping Mission in Somalia-AMISOM. Prosecution alleges on his return in the country in 2011, Arinaitwe deserted the forces.
He allegedly absconded from work after he was given one month official leave, prompting the UPDF to declare him Absentee without Leave-AWOL. According to prosecution while Arinaitwe got involved in criminal offences in Mbarara such as fighting civilians in bars, which tainted the image of the force in breach of section 146(1) and (3) of the UPDF act. In his ruling, Colonel Geoffrey Mujuni, the chairman of the second division court martial foundArinaitweand therefore convicted him to seven years in jail so as to deter other soldiers from desertion. He however, advised Arinaitwe to appeal the ruling in a higher court within 14 if he is dissatisfied with the sentence.
The same court also convicted Lance Corporal Wilberforce Kato to dismissal from the force for alleged desertion. Court heard that Kato, who was serving under the 37 battalion duringOperation Lightening Thunder in Central African Republic, asked for leave in 2001 but didn’t go back. He was picked up and detained at Makenke Army barracks. Reading out his judgment, Col. Mujuni noted that desertion has become a very serious concern to the army. He said some of the soldiers are involved in criminal and subversive activities, which jeopardize the country’s security. Colonel therefore convicted Kato to dismissal from the army with disgrace.
As a result, of the ruling, Kato who has served in the army for more than 10 years will not receive any benefits. The ruling comes in the wake of the illegal recruitment of Ugandans from western region into the M23 rebel ranks in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least more than 7 Ugandans were recruited last month by M23 rebels from Kiruhura district. Martin Abiru, the Rwizi Regional Police Commander said they have picked up intelligence indicating that M23 rebels and other armed groups involved in subversive activities in the neighboring countries were targeting Ugandan deserters mainly from the UPDF, Police and private security groups.