UPDF soldiers filmed flogging suspected thief dismissed from army

Four UPDF soldiers dismissed over viral flogging video
Some of the soldiers who were seen in a viral video clip flogging a suspect accused of stealing a motorcycle in the court session held at Lagot Primary School, Lagot Village in Pajong Parish, Mucwini Sub-county, Kitgum district.

Kitgum, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The 5th Division Court Martial has taken action against soldiers filmed in a widely circulated video, which depicted the flogging of a suspect accused of motorcycle theft.

Corporal Richard Burton Odong Otto, former Lagot Detach Commander, along with Privates Sunday Mungu Acel, Dennis Ogwang, and Martin Henry Omara, faced charges of aggravated torture. Four of the accused admitted guilt to the charge, while Omara Morris pleaded not guilty. Those who confessed were sentenced to one year in prison and dismissed from the army.

Deputy Defense Spokesperson Colonel Deo Akiiki reported that Colonel Ismail Ssendagira, the 5th Division Court Martial Chairman, acquitted Private Omara Morris based on Corporal Odong Otto Richard Burton’s testimony that Omara was not present during the incident.

During the Court session at Lagot Primary School in Lagot Village, Pajong Parish, Mucwini Sub-county, Kitgum district, Colonel Ssendagire pronounced the dismissal with disgrace from the Defence Forces and a one-year imprisonment at Uganda government prison Lira for Corporal Odong Richard Burton, Private Mongu Acel Sunday, Private Ogwang Denish, and Private Omara Martin Henry.

“This court therefore hereby sentences you Cpl Odong Richard Burton, Pte Mongu Acel Sunday, Pte Ogwang Denish, and Pte Omara Martin Henry to dismissal with disgrace from the Defence Forces and imprisonment for one year at Uganda government prison Lira,” Col Sendagire said.

The UPDF soldiers sentenced over aggravated torture

The court emphasized the convicts’ right to appeal within 14 days to the General Court Martial in Kampala. This judgment stemmed from an incident on December 10, 2023, where the convicts were filmed torturing Nelson Omon from Lagot military detach, accusing him of motorcycle theft. The video, which circulated widely on December 12, triggered public outrage, prompting the UPDF to apprehend all suspects in response to the public outcry.

Read Also: 8 soldiers, 23 civilians remanded over ‘coup plot’ against Museveni

Acts of torture are criminalized under the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture ACTV, 2012 (PPTA), where a penalty for a case of torture attracts a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment, and life imprisonment for aggravated Torture.

Torture according to the law means any act or omission, by which severe pain or suffering whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of any person whether a public official or other person acting in an official or private capacity for such purposes as—(a)obtaining information or a confession from the person or any other person;(b)punishing that person for an act he or she or any other person has committed, or is suspected of having committed or of planning to commit; or(c)intimidating or coercing the person or any other person to do, or to refrain from doing, any act.