The Fourth Infantry Division Court Martial in Gulu City has granted bail to Maj. Travers Kibuuka, the embattled former 2nd in command of the UPDF 71st battalion accused of torturing civilians.
The army disciplinary court charged Maj. Kibuuka 38 of two counts of assault and occasioning bodily harm contrary to section 236 of the penal code Act Cap 120 and insubordinate behaviour contrary to section 36 of the UPDF Act number 7/2005.
The prosecution states that Maj. Kibuuka and co-accused Private Yusuf Mawa on April 9 2023 while at Apaa village, Itirikwa Sub-county, Adjumani district assaulted Juliet Anzoa, and Beatrice Lokua thereby causing them serious body injuries.
On count two, they stated that Maj. Kibuuka on or around the 9th day of April 2023 at the same location undermined his supervisor, and Commanding Officer 71st Battalion, and deployed troops without informing him contrary to section 36 of the UPDF Act number 7/2005.
Both the suspects who have been on remand at Gulu Main Prison since June 5 denied the charges while appearing before the Fourth Division Court Martial Chairperson Col. George Nambafu on Wednesday last week.
The same court had earlier denied an application for bail to the accused persons on grounds that their lawyer presented civilians as their sureties.
On Friday, the suspect’s lawyer James Onen of Conrad Oroya Advocates returned to the court chaired by Col Nambafu with two senior UPDF officers as sureties for the applicants.
The sureties included Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya, the Fourth Infantry Division Spokesperson and Maj. Justus Asimwe Kyatoka.
Onen told the court that Maj. Kibuuka deserved bail because his health was deteriorating after medics discovered from Prison that he had severe typhoid and another undisclosed illness.
He also prayed to the court to grant the accused bail to facilitate the process of an alternative dispute resolution out of court with the victims.
“We started the process of negotiation with the victims and their relatives and came up with some road map which I believe after this court we shall sit and advance, we propose that it would be prudent for the accused to be outside so that we sit with the victim because some of the terms involve compensation,” Says Onen.
But Captain Augustine Tumwebaze, the state prosecutor objected to the defence lawyer’s request for bail arguing that the details of the sureties including their movement orders and their units had not been indicated to the court.
However, Col. Nambafu granted bail to the applicants saying the court had carefully considered the submission of the defence lawyer.
Kibuuka’s sureties were each bonded at 5 million shillings not cash while Mawa’s sureties were each bonded at 2 million shillings not cash.
“After careful deliberation, this court has observed the issues raised by the applicants, one being that the senior officer is sick and needs medication attention, this court finds the sureties substantial, and the court grants the applicants bail,” Ruled Col. Nambafu.
He however issued three conditions to be respected by the applicants that included their restricted movements outside Gulu District, respect for the rule of sub-judice and expedite alternative dispute resolution.
The suspects will return to court on August 1 for a hearing of count two in which Maj. Kibuuka is accused of insubordination.