Maj. Travers Kibuuka, the troubled former second-in-command of the UPDF 71st battalion accused of torturing civilians, has been granted bail by the Fourth Infantry Division Court Martial in Gulu City.
Maj. Kibuuka 38 was accused by the army disciplinary court of two counts of assault and causing bodily harm in violation of section 236 of the penal code Act Cap 120 and of acting insubordinately in violation of section 36 of the UPDF Act number 7/2005.
According to the prosecution, Juliet Anzoa and Beatrice Lokua were assaulted and had serious physical injuries as a result on April 9, 2023, in Apaa village, Itirikwa Sub-county, Adjumani district by Maj. Kibuuka and co-accused Private Yusuf Mawa.
On count two, it was claimed that Maj. Kibuuka disobeyed his superior and the commanding officer of the 71st Battalion on or about April 9, 2023, in the same place, and deployed troops without notifying him in violation of section 36 of the UPDF Act number 7/2005.
Both suspects, who have been held in solitary confinement at Gulu Main Prison since June 5, refuted the accusations on Wednesday last week when they appeared before Col. George Nambafu, the head of the Fourth Division Court Martial.
The same court had previously rejected the accused’s request for release on the grounds that their attorney had offered ordinary citizens as sureties.
James Onen, the suspect’s attorney, and two senior UPDF officers served as sureties for the applicants when they appeared before Col. Nambafu’s court on Friday.
Maj. Justus Asimwe Kyatoka and Maj. Telesphor Turyamumanya, the spokesperson for the Fourth Infantry Division, served as the sureties.
Onen testified before the court that Maj. Kibuuka deserved bail because his health was worsening and doctors had found out from the prison that he was suffering from severe typhoid and an additional, unspecified ailment.
In order to facilitate the process of an out-of-court alternative dispute resolution with the victims, he also requested to the court to grant the accused bail.
“We began the negotiation process with the victims and their families and came up with some guidelines that I believe we will sit down and advance after this court,” says Onen. “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.”
However, Captain Augustine Tumwebaze, the state prosecutor, opposed the defence attorney’s motion for release, claiming that the court had not been given sufficient information about the sureties, including their movement orders and their units.
Col. Nambafu said, however, that the court had carefully weighed the defence attorney’s submission and had granted bail to the applicants.
The sureties for Mawa were each bonded for 2 million shillings in lieu of cash, while the sureties for Kibuuka were each bonded for 5 million shillings in lieu of cash.
This court deems the sureties to be sufficient and grants the applicants bail after considering all the grounds mentioned by the applicants, including the senior officer’s illness and need for medicinal attention. Col. Nambafu ruled.
However, he set three requirements for the applicants to follow, including their limited travel outside of Gulu District, adherence to the sub-judice rule, and quick ADR.
On August 1, the suspects will be back in court for a hearing on count two, which accuses Maj. Kibuuka of disobedience.