Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ugandan Brigadier now fit for trial

Brig. Michael Ondoga
New Vision reports that the court-martial of Brigadier Michael Ondoga can now proceed.  He was released from hospital after minor surgery.  He is charged with failure to brief seniors, lying about the position of the enemy and making false accusations against a junior officer.

But what is of interest, especially to U.S. military lawyers, is the apparent make up of the court-martial panel.
Ondoga rejected Maj. Jane Mukasa (court member) from hearing his case because she reportedly “celebrated” when the accused was arrested.
In the U.S. it would be extraordinary for a potential panel member to be junior to the person on trial, and certainly of such a difference in rank.  The recent court-martial of Brigadier General Sinclair in the U.S. was complicated because of the necessity in finding sufficient general officers who could be impartial enough to sit in judgment.  RCM 912(f)(1)(K), Manual for Courts-Martial, United States (2012) requires members be senior in rank, unless this is unavoidable.  With the size of the U.S. officer corps it is rare that they can't find a sufficient number of more senior officers to gather a panel.

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