By Douglas Mubiru & Michael Odeng
Five National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters indicted for wearing red berets have been sentenced to caution by the General Court Martial (GCM).
GCM chairman Brig. Gen Robert Freeman Mugabe cautioned Maxwell Okello, Alex Kandyama, Richard Tiriganya, Alioni Anyo and David Ojit, having spent close to two years on remand on charges of unauthorised wearing of uniforms.
The caution came after the convicts, through their lawyers Betty Karugaba and Capt. Nsubuga Busagwa, opted to change their plea, thereby court convicting them.
Sentencing the quintet, Mugabe expounded that despite the maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment for the charge the convicts had been convicted of, they were first-time offenders, who readily pleaded guilty and were ready to reform.
“Therefore, this court, after deducting a period of one year, nine months and three days spent on remand/lawful custody and a period of two months for mitigating factors, hereby sentences you to a caution,” Gen Mugabe ruled.
Prosecution led by Lt Alex Mukhwana and Lt Gift Mubehamwe told the court that on or around November 2020 around the New Taxi Park, Mukingo in Nakawa and Kosovo village Rubaga Division in Kampala district, the convicts, without authority, were found wearing red berets so nearly resembling those authorised for use by members of the defence forces as to be likely to deceive.
Background and arrest
The convicts’ arrest followed the November 18 and 19 2020 riots triggered by the arrest of the then NUP presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, in Luuka district, prompting his supporters across the country to hit the streets to protest.
The protests have since left over 50 people dead and property destroyed and the government then pledged to compensate the victims.