New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: State Wants Brigadier Tumukunde Convicted

The State has asked the General Court Martial (GCM) to convict Brig. Henry Tumukunde for breaching the code of conduct of the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF).

Tumukunde is facing two counts of conduct - prejudicial to good order and discipline and spreading harmful propaganda.

Prosecution alleges that the army man made offensive remarks on a talk-show called Spectrum on a local radio station on May 27, 2005 without authorization and contrary to sections 66(1),(2) and (5) of the UPDF Act.

The show was discussing the role of military in the political transition.

In their final submission they presented to court at Makindye on Thursday, prosecution noted that they had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Tumukunde made the statements and should be convicted.

The prosecutor Capt. Frederick Kangwamu said his conduct violated the regulations of the UPDF Act.

He said according to Rule 2 (J), a soldier must get authorization from the chief of staff to speak out on any matter to the media, which he argued Tumukunde never respected as a serving senior army officer and a lawyer.

"It was proved beyond reasonable doubt that it was him in the recordings. A senior officer at his level of education can't claim not knowing the rules and regulations," Kangwamu told court.

He added that during his submission of no-case-to-answer, Tumukunde never tendered when the tape was being played in court.

Last week, Tumukunde told court that he would not defend himself against charges.

Kangwamu also noted that the host of the radio show was brought three times to court but declined to testify against the accused because he [Tumukunde] was a relative and that "they had exchanged cows".

"But what is important was to prove whether Tumukunde appeared on radio. Tumukunde is subject to military laws. Discipline must be adhered to. We pray that he is convicted," he said.

The defense lawyers Emmanuel Twarebireho and Oscar Kambona asked for more time to study the submission to make a reply which Tumukunde did not object.

The GCM chairman, Brig. Fred Tolit adjourned the hearing to February 13, where he expects to make his final ruling on the matter. The case has been going since May 30, 2005.

Drama in court

Earlier Tolit was forced to send Tumukunde out of court. It started when Tolit found Tumukunde in the dock and questioned who had called him there without permission.

"Who called him here without my presence? Gen. Tumukunde who called you here?" he asked.

Tumukunde said: "I was told that court was proceeding and someone in a red uniform told me to come in." However, all the guards and officials denied having allowed him in.

The furious Tolit told Tumukunde that him that he as a chairman calls court to order and makes a cause list for those to appear in the dock.

"I ask you to respect the law and procedures of court. I don't know what emotion you want to provoke. This is not a school of dance and drama. Respect yourself and others," the chairman said.

He told the accused that he is the last person he expects to defy the law.

"Nobody called you in the dock. You can't set pace for court. I order you now to go back to the cell to cool down until I call you back," he said.

"I am a psychologist and you are a lawyer and I expect you to know that. You are my friend and you will remain so. I have no grudges on you but we have to respect the law," Tolit added.

Tumukunde immediately marched to the cell and was called back in court half an hour later.

According to section 137 of the UPDF Act, the charge of spreading harmful propaganda carries a maximum penalty of death or life imprisonment.

Related

Court martial to decide Tumukunde case in November

Brig. Tumukunde has case to answer says court

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