Court acquits former AMISOM commander

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The Army Court of Appeal has acquitted Lt. Col. Hassan Kimbowa on seven counts of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.

Kimbowa, the former commander of battalion eleven under the African Mission Union in Somalia (AMISOM) had been sentenced to 10 months in detention by the General Court Martial for issuing fuel to Somali nationals without authority from United Nation (UN) coordinator.

However, the Court Martial, Appeal Court presided over by Chairman Elly Turyamubona quashed the conviction and overturned the sentence on grounds that prosecution had no evidence to support Kimbowa’s conviction for an offence based on failure to get authority to issue fuel.

This was the conduct prejudicial to the good order and discipline envisaged in the statement and particulars of the offence allegedly committed by Kimbowa.

“We find that the GCM erred in law and facts in failing to evaluate the evidence as it would have found that Kimbowa did not commit the alleged act,” Turyamubona ruled on Friday.

Turyamubona agreed with the defence console that there was no evidence as to how the consent of the UN coordinator was to be obtained by Kimbowa and other previous commanders, adding that no slips were exhibited in court to show how the UN Coordinator consented to the issue of fuel.

He further stated that there was no written complaint from the UN Coordinator regarding the actions of the appellant (Kimbowa). “The appellant made an application in court to summon several witness including the UN Coordinator but it was ignored by the GCM”.

The court heard that when fuel was released, it would be sent to AMISOM and later divided to battalion groups and units. It also found out that Kimbowa was accountable to CONT-CO and not UN coordinator. This was supported by the evidence of defence witness two, Brig. Michael Ondoga, who was Kimbowa’s CONT-CO.Turyamubona also agreed with defence that the failure by the GCM to properly evaluate both the prosecution and defence case led to substantial miscarriage of justice.

The court also stated that the GCM erred in law and facts when it convicted Kimbowa based on international agreement between the African Union (AU) and UN, thus arriving at a wrong decision.

Kimbowa’s lawyer, Nsubuga Mubiru earlier stated that the GCM had imposed a manifestly harsh sentence to the appellant.

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