Court

UPDF soldier gets 35-year jail term for murder

Private Omuge said the deceased and the other two were also armed with bow and arrows, and his actions were in self-defence, a call which the army court said lacked merit.

Private Moses Solomon Omuge appearing in court (Photo/Courtesy)

KATAKWI, DISTRICT: A UPDF soldier, Private Solomon Omuge attached to the 37th battalion in Katakwi has been sentenced to 35 years imprisonment over murder of a civilian.

Omuge was on Tuesday, May 17 convicted by the army’s third division court martial sitting in Ngariam Sub-county, Katakwi District.

Army Prosecution led by Maj Kennedy Jeh on Saturday told court that on December 18, 2021, Private Moses Solomon Omuge, and three others staged an ambush in Achanga Parish, where he opened fire twice at Status Ikabat Opio, who later died of his wounds on the way to Katakwi hospital.

Maj Keneddy explains that the late Ikabat who repeatedly identified himself to Omuge was in the company of his two brothers Emmanuel Elungat, 24, and Isaac Operemo, 22, as they searched for stolen animals at 8pm, after reporting a case of stolen animals at Achanga UPDF detach in Ngariam Sub-county when the incident happened.

“There was moonlight, and the deceased, who was a childhood friend of private Omuge, made repeated calls but he never heeded,” the lead army prosecutor said.

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Maj Kennedy said Omuge fired one bullet at close range to the chest of Ikabat, and another at the back of the deceased, adding that the other two relatives ran and alerted their relatives who reported the matter to Ngariam police post.

Maj. Kennedy explained that a postmortem conducted confirmed that Ikabat’s death was as a result of bullet wounds, adding that the bullets also corresponded with the ones in private Omuge’s gun.

Private Omuge, who was represented by Capt Elly Rugyendo as defence lawyer, blamed his actions on ill training and lack of proper judgment, adding that he only trained for four months and not as UPDF but as Local Defence Unit officer.

“Based on that, I call for lenient sentences from you, besides, I was doing government work in this area infested with cattle theft,” he pleaded.

Omuge said the deceased and the other two were also armed with bow and arrows, and his actions were in self-defence, a call which the army court said lacked merit.

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While delivering his ruling, Col Francis Kateraho said Private Omuge was a childhood friend to the deceased and all witnesses indicated that the late repeatedly identified himself to the army officer but he recklessly acted in disregard of the law.

He said the actions of Omuge have dented the trust the community had in the force, adding that they need to send a signal to others.

Maj Isaac Oware, the 3rd Division army spokesperson, said the claim of being ill trained is no excuse.


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