Ondoga Denied Bail, Offered Speedy Trial

The jailed former head of a UPDF contingent to Somalia, Brig Michael Ondoga, has failed to secure bail from the army’s General Court Martial for a fourth time.

However, in a decision that will bring some cheer to Brig Ondoga, the military court has instead offered the embattled officer a speedy trial. Brig Ondoga, who has been on remand for more than a year, is jointly accused with 20 other senior officers under his command of selling fuel and food allocated to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

In his latest bail application, lodged through lawyer Frank Kanduho, Ondoga argued that the several counts he and his colleague Lt Col Sam Kirya are facing are ordinarily bailable. However, prosecution argued that although the charges against Ondoga were indeed bailable, they feared that he could use his position as a senior army officer to intimidate state witnesses since some worked under him.

In its ruling on Thursday, November 6, a seven-man General Court Martial team chaired by Maj Gen Levi Karuhanga declined to grant Ondoga bail again but offered him an expeditious trial.

“Prosecution in its submissions is to handle this case expeditiously, and court is ready to put in place an expeditious trial mostly in this part of the month,” ruled Karuhanga.

Brig Ondoga, RO 04148, was on October 13, 2013 charged with several counts, including disobeying lawful orders and failure to execute his duties. Later, he was charged with 20 others with related offences. Ondoga, who pleaded not guilty to all the charges, first applied for bail on grounds of grave illness before he underwent a surgical operation at Bombo military hospital in May last year.

After Judge Aocate Lt Col Gideon Katinda said court was ready to handle the case expeditiously, Kanduho asked court to handle it on a daily basis, including Saturdays. The prosecution says it will present 23 witnesses. The case was adjourned to November 12, 2014.

Source : The Observer

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