UPDF soldier who shot three civilians dead pleads guilty to charges

Kenneth Kazibwe

Kenneth Kazibwe

, Featured, News

Lance Corporal Geoffrey Odaga, a UPDF soldier who shot dead three people over the weekend has pleaded to charges before the General Court Martial that sat in Gulu.

On Saturday night,  Odaga killed three civilians who were drinking at a local bar in Kabedopong village in Badege division, Gulu municipality when he opened fire at them and injured one other.

On Thursday, the army court chaired by Lt.Gen.Andrew Gutti read charges including three counts of murder, one related to attempted murder and aggravated robbery and the soldier pleaded not guilty but on resumption on Friday, Odaga changed his mind and pleaded guilty to the charges.

“I have understood the charges and I plead guilty,”Odaga told court before asking for forgiveness from the families of the deceased.

The prosecutor, Capt.Masereje asked court to hand Odaga a deterent sentence to act as a lesson to other would be offenders.

“He  a trained soldier ,  earns salary and  this government has entrusted him to serve and protect citizens  but  instead killed three people and injuring another before demanding for beer on gun point,” the prosecutor said.

He requested that the punishment handed to the errant soldier should help other soldiers desist from committing similar crimes.

In response, the defence lawyers asked court to be lenient to Odaga because he has served the force dedicatedly for many years and has served on various missions on top of being the sole bread winner of his family.

The General Court Martial sitting in Gulu is expected to deliver the sentence today Saturday.

It is alleged that on the fateful day, Lance Corporal Odaga, a soldier attached to the UPDF fourth infantry division in Gulu district entered a bar at around 11 before looting an unspecified amount of money and drinks before opening fire at the revelers in the drinking place.

A number of UPDF soldiers have in the past been handed hefty punishments for shooting dead colleagues and civilians.

In 2013, Lance Corporal Herbert Rwakihembo was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment after being found guilty of   shooting dead three people and injuring one in Luzira by a division court martial that sat at Luzira Church of Uganda Primary School.

The court heard that on December 10, 2012, at Kisenyi Zone III, Luzira in Nakawa Division, Rwakihembo shot dead Irene Namuyaba Nakibirango, Zaina Nassolo Nalongo and Loyce Kawendeke .

The punishment was however overturned on appeal.

In 2015,the UPDF 4th Division Court Martial sitting at Bibia trading centre  sentenced Lance Corporal Kennedy Okumu, 40, a soldier belonging to the 29th Battalion to 45 years in prison for shooting dead a bar maid over shs 1000.

In 2013, the General Court Martial sitting in Bombo sentenced Pte Patrick Okot Odoch, a UPDF to 90 years imprisonment for killing 10 people including his fellow soldiers in a bar in Bombo town.

 

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