A Local Defense Unit-LDU personal will spend the rest of his life in jail, the 5th Division Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF court-martial siting in Oyam has decided.
The convict is Thomas Jolly Opoka who was found guilty for the murder of 65-year-old Francis Ogwang Munu, a resident of Amati parish in Oyam District.
Meanwhile, his colleagues Felix Okumu and Lance Corporal Geoffrey Ogwang who was the commander were convicted as accomplices to the murder and handed 40 and 20 year jail terms respectively.
Prosecution told Court chaired by Col. Paul Omara that the trio committed the offence on June 27th 2020, when they assaulted Ogwang at Amati Trading Centre in Kamdini sub- County in Oyam District while enforcing the night-time curfew.
However, it was later determined that the deceased was a member of the village COVID- 19 task force.
At least seven witnesses were produced by prosecution and they all pinned the accused persons on the crime in the court. While reading the verdict, Col. Omara noted that the accused persons played different roles in the murder, a reason why they are charged separately.
State Prosecutor Lt. Alex Rasto Mukhwana had earlier told Court, that the President had warned security personnel against using violence while enforcing his directives and wondered why the clean image of the UPDF should be tainted by anybody.
He prayed that the court finds the accused guilty and hands them a harsh sentence to serve as a warning to others.
However, the Defence Counsel Lt. Abubakar Nyombi argued that the LDUs lacked experience and are young people who can still serve the country.
But this was dismissed by the state who argued that the soldier’s experience should have helped him to make a better judgment and that the LDUs went through sufficient training.
Court allows the convicts to appeal to the General Court Martial within 14 days starting July 7, when the judgment was passed.
The LDUs have faced criticism from members of the public for being harsh and inconsiderate of human life while enforcing the Presidential directives on COVID-19.
When told about their behavior, President Museveni referred to them as ‘pigs’ and directed that they stop assaulting innocent citizens, but instead just effect arrests.