The division Court Martial in Gulu has sentenced six UPDF soldiers to six months for torturing 38 locals while enforcing the coronavirus curfew in Amuru district.
The incident that happened last week when a joint security team including Police and army officers targeted 38 men and women who were residing in makeshift structures at Loriko West village, Elegu town council in Amuru district at around 8pm on April, 2, 2020, beating and torturing them.
On Wednesday, six UPDF soldiers including L/Cpl. Awany Abori Constantine, Pte Makanga Mohammed, Pte Eboku John Mark, Pte Mutenge Robert, Pte Ayo Silvestre and Pte Ahimbisibwe Eria were arraigned before the division court martial chaired by Col Geoffrey Nambafu and charged with assault causing bodily harm to locals contrary to section 236 of the Penal Code Act.
The army prosecutor told court that the six are soldiers formerly attached to the 71st battalion and armed with sticks; they beat one Zubeda Ceka thereby inflicting body injuries on her thighs and arms.
They were also accused of beating and inflicting body injuries on Fatuma Yutong’s buttocks and arms during the operation and the beating of other victims during the operation. “They pleaded guilty to all the accounts and have been sentenced to six months imprisonment,” the army spokesperson, Brig. Richard Karemire said.
Following the announcement of the curfew and lockdown by President Museveni on March 30, joint security forces of the Police, army and LDU personnel started operations to enforce the directive.
However, on April, 2, 2020 at around 8pm, at Loriko West village, Elegu town council in Amuru district the security officers arrested the men and women from their houses beating them and asking them to roll in mud after removing their clothes.
After the incident, the victims reported their ordeal to one of their leaders, Beatrice Auma who also doubles as their landlord who photographed them and images went viral.
The images that went viral on social media depicted the women and men nursing several injuries all over their bodies , attracting sympathy from members of the public but also condemnation of the security forces for torturing the locals.
Consequently, the State House Anti-Corruption unit headed by Lt.Col. Edith Nakalema got to know of the matter and dispatched a team to investigate it and the culprits were arrested.
President Museveni last week warned security agencies against misinterpreting his directives in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
“If I talked about curfew, I didn’t necessarily mean locking yourselves in-doors. Simply stay at home which can be in your house, compound, veranda and any other place within your home. Do not interpret my words in a “Kiyaye” way,” Museveni said.
“Some LDUs are misbehaving. Why do they enter people’s houses? If anybody wants to enter your house, don’t allow them in. We are going to deal with them very harshly.”
Museveni said his directive on curfew was only meant to enforce it in regards people moving in roads and paths and not in compounds and verandas as some security officers are doing.
He asked members of the public not to allow any security officer break into their houses but rather report them to the State House anti –corruption unit.
“Don’t allow those pigs into your house. If they want to enter, don’t open for them and ring us. When I talked of curfew, I meant that people should not walk on the road or go to the bar.”