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Kitgum Police Officer Charged over Illegal Logging

Mpande and Mwanje were arrested on Thursday last week after they were found in possession of 226 pieces of timbers they allegedly harvested from indigenous trees in Paladiya community forest in Omuwa village in Lokung East Sub-county.
Charged, ASP Mpande Julius, Officer Incharge of Operations at Kitgum Central Police Station.
Julius Mpande, the Officer in charge of Operations at Kitgum Central Police Station in Kitgum District has been charged with illegal logging in a community Forest in Lamwo District.

Mpande was charged along with his business associate Habib Mwanje, on Tuesday at the Kitgum Magistrates Court. The suspects had appeared before the Kitgum Chief Magistrate Elizabeth Akullo Ogwal.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges of Illegal cutting of trees and removing forest produce contrary to section 32[1a] and 43 [1] of the National Forestry and Tree Planting Act 2003.

Mpande and Mwanje were arrested on Thursday last week after they were found in possession of 226 pieces of timbers they allegedly harvested from indigenous trees in Paladiya community forest in Omuwa village in Lokung East Sub-county.

The suspects who had been detained for nearly a week at Lamwo Central Police Station cells were however released on bail.

Chief Magistrate Akullo granted each suspect a cash bail of 500,000 Shillings after being presented with four sureties.  The sureties included Sam Komakech, the Local Council Chairperson of Apollo Ground cells in Central Division and Patrick Makumbi a businessman who stood for Mpande. Patrick Olara and Sunday Auma stood for Mwanje. Each of the surety was asked to pay non-cash bail of 5 Million Shillings.

Akullo adjourned the matter till April 8th when the suspects return to court for mention of the case.

Senior Resident State Attorney Hamza Muzime told Court that inquiries into the matter are still on-going. 

Ogwal has also issued an arrest warrant for a 15-year-old girl, a victim of defilement over her failure to show up in court as a witness in a defilement case filed in by her father.

The minor was allegedly defiled by Daniel Owiny, a 22-year-old man on December 22 last year from Gang-dyang cell in Pandwong Division.

The victim was on Tuesday expected to appear in court as a witness in the defilement cases against Owiny but her father, Walter Ocaya told the court that her daughter has made it a habit to disappear on the day she is expected in court.

Ogwal who first queried Ocaya over possible negligence however stressed that the victim's disappearances could be an indicator of an issue.

“When you see people dodging the court, it’s an indication that there is something wrong,” Akullo says.

She warned the suspect against colluding with the victim citing that his bail risks being cancelled. The Chief Magistrate adjourned the matter to April 20th.