Somalia – More Soldiers Released

After their release on December 11 by the General Court Martial, parties broke out in Kibuku to welcome Maj Frank D Kiweru and Capt Hassan Wantimba from a year in Makindye military barracks prison.

The release of the two UPDF officers came 10 days after The Observer reported that National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders from Kibuku district had written to President Museveni promising to support his sole candidate project in 2016 if he released Maj. Kiweru. (See Kibuku NRM leaders petition Museveni over detained soldier).

Maj Kiweru and Capt Wantimba were accused of persuading UPDF instructors at the Al-Jazeera training centre in Mogadishu, Somalia, to train 19 Al-Jazeera Somali civilians outside the school training calendar. But the Court Martial chairman Maj Gen Levi Karuhanga ruled last week that the defence had not provided enough evidence to pin the accused officers.

Prosecution claimed that the two officers in May 2013, working as the staff officer in charge of training at Amisom forces headquarters in Mogadishu and administrative officer at the Al-Jazeera training centre respectively, induced the UPDF instructors at the said training centre to train the 19 Al-Jazeera Somali civilians.

On November 21, after prosecution closed its case, Chrysostom Katumba, the defence lawyer, asked court to release the army officers for lack of evidence.

“This honourable court concurs with the accused’s defence lawyer to the effect that all the prosecution witnesses gave no incriminating evidence against the two accused persons. You are, therefore, not required to defend yourselves and you’re free now,” Karuhanga ruled.

Apart from the first prosecution witness Sgt Khalid Efiku, Katumba argued that none of the other prosecution witnesses gave evidence pinning the accused persons for inducing or attempting to induce the instructors to train the 19 Somali civilians.

“In conclusion, therefore, we submit that the prosecution failed in its duty of establishing a prima facie case against the accused persons and we pray that the accused persons be acquitted on a no-case-to- answer,” Katumba added.

The release of Kiweru and Wantimba, brings to five, the number of officers who have walked free since 18 high ranking officers were withdrawn from Somalia including the Contigent Commander Brig Ondoga, accused of impropriety.

Others released earlier on conviction and sentenced to a caution include Maj Nasur Namara, Maj Sam Seguya and Lt Col Lubulwa. Early this month, The Observer reported that on August 18, 100 NRM cadres petitioned President Museveni urging the release of Maj Kiweru, who they said is a loyal NRM cadre and an influential mobiliser in the eastern districts.

In their petition, the petitioners promised to support Museveni’s sole candidature in 2016 if Kiweru, the only major in Kibuku district, was released.

“If he has a case to answer, please kindly exercise your prerogative of mercy on him considering his great contributions toward the attainment of our revolutionary aims and objectives,” the four- page petition read.

Source : The Observer

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