By Moses Sentamu
Renown human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo has called Thursday’s military police unit disciplinary committee (UDC) the court martial on soldiers who beat up journalists covering Bobi Wine’s petition to the UN Human Rights offices, a mock trial to save face for the security forces.
“Every time this has happened, there is a mock trial, where a few low ranking officers are quickly paraded before a unit disciplinary committee which in the first place does not have any jurisdiction to try criminal offences. What the soldiers did on Wednesday were criminal offences not disciplinary acts to be taken to a disciplinary court of the UPDF, they should be charged in a court of law” he said.
Mr Opiyo who was arrested last year over alleged money laundering made the remarks while appearing on NBS television on Thursday evening.
“Army and government spokespersons would want us to believe that this is an aberration, an isolated incidence, not commanded by the army but rather carried out by errant officers. These excuses have been given far too many times but the silence by the army commander and his friends in the security sector points to complicity” he said.
Mr Opiyo who identified the commander of the attack on journalists as Lt.Col Namanya Napoleon alias Napo Namanya said the commanders who lead such operations are supposed to be charged alongside the men they command during the attacks.
“Far too many times, journalists and wider community have been targeted by the armed forces which is an attempt to hide their excesses, switch off the light and allow violations to continue without being reported. The only crime a journalist has committed is to focus their camera on the brutality of the police and security services” he added
The sentenced officers include; Capt Jessy Odwenyi, Cpl Nimusiima Justine, Pte Wasswa Peter, Pte Tsame Imran, Pte Kisakye Victoria, Pte Opiyo Isaac and L/cpl Zirimenya Kassim.
L/cpl Zirimenya was charged with 60 days while Cpl Nimusiima Justine was sentenced to severe reprimand and caution while Pte Kisakye Victoria and Pte Opiyo Isaac were sentenced to 62 and 60 days in the military prison respectively.
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