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UPDF colonel survives death penalty as court acquits him of rebel activities

Lt Col Deziderio Balidda, formerly attached to the Field Artillery Division in Masindi District, has been acquitted by the General Court Martial, Makindye (FILE PHOTO)

MAKINDYE – The General Court Martial has acquitted a senior UPDF soldier of charges of recruiting soldiers into rebel activities after prosecution failed to present enough evidence against him.

Lt Col Deziderio Balidda, formerly attached to the Field Artillery Division in Masindi District, was last year charged with recruiting soldiers into rebel activities and disclosing important security secrets to rebels with intent to overthrow the government.

He reportedly committed the offences in August 2016 in Naguru and Ntinda in Kampala and other places in Masindi.

However, on Monday, the court martial chairman, Lt Gen Andrew Gutti, dismissed the case after prosecution for the umpteenth time failed to present its witnesses despite several adjournments.

Gen Gutti’s ruling came after the Prosecutor, Maj. Raphael Mugisha, again said investigations were still ongoing and requested for another adjournment.

However, Gen. Gutti turned down the request, saying the case had been given last adjournment to enable prosecution present its witnesses in vain.

Lt Col Balidda had been jointly charged with Robert Wanyama and Ivan Asiimwe, both UPDF soldiers. They have consistently denied the charges.

The acquittal means the trio survive a possible death sentence. Section 130 of the UPDF Act provides that a person subject to military law who discloses by word of mouth or by document, confidential information to the enemy or to unauthorized members of the Defence Forces or the public commits an offence and is, on conviction liable to suffer death.

A group of 14 suspects among them a senior UPDF officer, Lt Col Philip Frank Eguma, formerly of the Armoured Warfare Training School in Mubende District, are accused of attempting to attack Kabamba Army Barracks.

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