Saturday, October 24, 2015

Civilians dominate among the accused in Ugandan court-martial

Sometimes it is interesting to see what makes the news in reporting about courts-martial. Here is an article about a Ugandan general court-martial where the major general who chairs the court has had to deal with delays due to the repeated absence of civilian defense counsel for the 14 accuseds. Excerpt:

The General Court Martial chairman, Maj. Gen Levi Karuhanga gave the warning on Wednesday after Jude Mbabaali failed to turn up in court again.
“I am giving a final warning. If the lawyer does not appear in court again, then the accused will look for another advocate to represent them,” he warned. 
This prompted Karuhanga, who appeared to be frustrated at the pace of the court proceedings to advise the accused persons to get a new lawyer. 
“The public are not seeking adjournments but it is the lawyer delaying justice and the accused persons are suffering,” he said. 
The accused persons were charged with two offences related to security and aiding the commissioning of the offence contrary to the UPDF Act. 
The court chairman sent back the accused persons to Luzira Prison and Makindye military police headquarters respectively until November 10, when they will re-appear in court for the hearing of their case.
That is certainly newsworthy, although one wonders why the case was adjourned for so long, rather than, say, one day. Only far down in the story does the fact emerge that nine of the accuseds are civilians. Shouldn't that have been the lede? Or has the exercise of military jurisdiction over civilians become business as usual in Uganda?

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