UPDF deserter sentenced to 35 years in prison, colleague dismissed for taking a 5-year leave

Pte Abraham Engwedu (L) and Pte Stephen Jarili (R). PHOTO/ HANDOUT

Summary:

  • A 44-year-old soldier in Uganda received a 35-year prison sentence for desertion, while a colleague was dismissed for being absent without leave. Both were found guilty by the UPDF court martial, underscoring the army’s zero-tolerance policy towards desertion.

KAMPALA, (Examiner) – A 44-year-old soldier has received a 35-year prison sentence for desertion from the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF). His colleague faced dismissal from the force for being absent without official leave (AWOL).

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Private Abraham Engwedu, identified as RA/200628, was found guilty of desertion by the UPDF Third Division Court Martial held at Moroto barracks. Engwedu, formerly with the 19 Infantry Battalion, fled his unit armed in November 2006 from Matany detach in Napak District, Karamoja Sub Region. He remained at his home in Kalaki District until his arrest, during which government property was recovered.

The court, sitting for three days, also dismissed Private Stephen Jarili (RA/211981) from service with disgrace. Jarili, stationed at the Third Division headquarters and attached to Mount Elgon Conservation Area under Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), was found guilty of being AWOL. He had taken a 14-day pass leave from duty in Mbale on September 4, 2017, but only returned on February 23, 2023.

Both soldiers pleaded guilty to their charges, according to UPDF Third Division spokesperson Isaac Oware. Colonel Francis Kateraho, the court chairman, emphasized that the sentences served as a deterrent to potential offenders. Kateraho stressed the UPDF’s intolerance toward desertion, highlighting the significant investment the Force makes in personnel training.

The court granted a 14-day window for appeal if the soldiers are dissatisfied with the verdict. Desertion cases remain a concern within the army, prompting strict enforcement of disciplinary measures.

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