UPDF soldier who killed civilians in Gulu sentenced to 40 years imprisonment

Kenneth Kazibwe

Kenneth Kazibwe

, Featured, News

The General Court Martial sitting in Gulu has sentenced a UPDF soldier to 40 years imprisonment for shooting dead three civilians and injuring one other last week.

On Saturday night, Lance Corporal Geoffrey Odaga shot dead 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 being arraigned before the army court, Odaga pleaded guilty to charges including murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery.

On Saturday, the court sentenced Odaga to 40 years imprisonment for the offences.
“This court therefore sentences you to 39 years and 359 days in prison for murder and 20 years imprisonment for attempted murder and aggravated robbery,” Lt. Gen.Andrew Gutti said while reading his sentence.

The court considered the six days that Odaga has spent since his arrest and subtracted them from the punishment.

On Friday, Capt Charles Ssekayita, the defense lawyer asked court for a lenient punishment to Odaga since he is diabetic and has served on a number of missions in South Sudan and DRC in the past.

“He is single parent taking care of five children, the wife having deserted him while in DRC in 1998,”Capt.Ssekayita asked court on Friday.

Reading his sentence on Saturday, Lt.Gen.Gutti said he was considerate to Odaga because he was a first time offender and has issues with his life.

“He has never got any counselling causing involuntary actions.”

The court however ordered the UPDF solider to serve the 40 and 20 years punishments concurrently.
The relatives to the victims were however not content with the punishment saying it was so lenient considering the pain they have gone through since the incident.

A number of UPDF soldiers convicted of killing civilians and fellow soldiers have in the past been handed similar stringent punishments by the army court but the vice seems to continue.

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,  to 90 years imprisonment for killing 10 people including his fellow soldiers in a bar in Bombo town.

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