The General Court Martial sitting in Mogadishu was told that the five UPDF soldiers recently convicted of murder used explosives to decimate bodies of seven Somali civilians they had already shot dead.
In an incident that happened last month, bodies of seven civilians were discovered after a heavy exchange of gunfire between the AMISOM forces and Al Shabaab militant along the Beldamin-Golweyn Forward Operating Base in the Lower Shabelle region.
The exchange of gunfire followed an ambush by Al Shabaab militants as AMISOM soldiers patrolled the area.
An investigating team constituted by AMISOM recently found out that the soldiers operating in the Golweyn area in the Lower Shabelle region in Southern Somalia, about 110km south of Mogadishu, had on August 10 killed innocent civilians.
Consequently, Ugandans authorities were asked to punish the implicated soldiers.
The army court chaired by Lt Gen Andrew Gutti last week sentenced to death two soldiers including a captain and his deputy whereas three others were handed various sentences after being convicted of murder.
Capt Charles Asiimwe , the second in command of ‘B’ Coy and Cpl Edison Bwambale a section commander were sentenced to death whereas Cpl Alexander Babu an explosive ordinance commander attached to Beldamin logistics Forward Operating Base and riflemen L/ Cpl Phillip Ichumar and Priv Kerere Tushemereirwe were handed long jail sentences.
According to evidence before court, on the fateful day, the group serving under 111 battalion of Battle Group 32 attached to Golweyn Forward Operating Base had been deployed to escort logistic supplies convoy from Golweyn to Beldamin were supposed to midway handover the convoy to a friendly force that was coming from Beldamin.
The group arrested seven Somali civilians whom they accused of attacking their convoy and they eventually shot them dead.
The prosecution used seven witnesses who included six UPDF soldiers and a Somali national to pin the group.
According to L/Cpl Buule Godfrey who was part of the patrol convoy, the seven Somali civilians were arrested and later shot dead on orders of Capt Charles Asiimwe and Cpl Edison Bwambale.
The army court was told that the seven civilians were arrested, tied and later shot dead before explosives were used to further decimate their bodies.
“According to the evidence of PW1 L/Cpl Buule Godfrey, he told court that Sgt now S/Sgt Obiza Dradiga arrested three people first, then three other people with three guns and later one person who was riding a motorcycle suspecting all of them to be Al-shabab. That after giving a report of arrest to Capt Charles Asiimwe, he said that the suspects should not leave and Sgt Obiza tied them and took them with the guns to the junction where Cpl Bwambale was with his soldiers who included L/Cpl Buule himself. L/Cpl Buule testified that Sgt Obiza handed over the suspects to Cpl Bwambale and took the guns plus the phones to Capt Asiimwe,” the evidence says.
“The witness told court that Cpl Bwambale deployed them and gave them arc fire and Cpl Bwambale together with Pte Tushemereirwe remained guarding the suspects. L/Cpl Buule further told court that after hearing that the force from Beldamin had been attacked, Cpl Bwambale got one of the suspects and shot him dead and he said he had got orders from Capt Asiimwe. That Cpl Bwambale again started communicating on radio and called them to finish off the remaining six suspects.”
According to evidence, whereas L/CPL Godfrey Buule refused to participate in the killing because this was contrary to the training he had acquired before the mission in Ssingo, L/Cpl Ichumar Phillip and Pte Tushemereirwe went and shot the suspects together with Cpl Bwambale.
He further told court that after killing, Capt Asiimwe came to confirm and told his soldiers to move ahead.
According to the evidence on record, Capt Charles Asiimwe gave orders to Cpl Bwambale Edison that the seven arrested people be shot dead. A2 Cpl Bwambale Edison complied.
According to evidence, after being shot dead, the commanders decided that the bodies of the seven Somali civilians be decimated using explosives.
According to evidence by Pte Opolot Emmanuel and Pte Ainobushoborozi Abraham, Cpl Babu Alexander who was their explosive ordinance commander gave orders that the bodies of the Somali civilians be decimated using explosives.
They also told court that A3(Babu) went to A1(Asiimwe) and stayed with him for about 40 minutes before detonating the second IED. Pte Opolot further testified that A1, Capt Charles Asiimwe called his soldiers from the point section to move the dead bodies from where they were to where the second IED was,” the judgement reads in part.
“They laid the bodies of the deceased persons on an Improvised Explosive Device and detonated it causing mutilation of the said bodies.”
Keep it secret
Evidence before court indicated that on return to their base, Capt Charles Asiimwe who was the commander of the group did report to his superior, Capt Vincent Benda what had happened.
“A1 did not report to him(Benda) that he had killed the seven civilians after returning to the base and he only learnt of it when civilians came demonstrating.”
The authorities only got to know of the misdeed when Somali nationals came demonstrating at the base prompting investigations into the matter.
The court also found out that there was no attack on the UPDF AMISOM convoy as it had been alleged by the convicts.
The five convicts have since been returned to Uganda from where they are to serve their respective sentences.