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UPDF Retain Guns, Ammunitions Captured from South Sudan Bandits

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Kitgum Resident District Commissioner, William Komakech, said it’s the responsibility of the South Sudan government to ensure that the suspects are prosecuted but reiterated that handing over guns intercepted in a sovereign state is illegal. “We have done our part in capturing; detaining and now we have handed over the culprits back to you. It’s up to you to prosecute them or let them go free,” said Komakech.
Some of the guns intercepted from South Sudan bandits in Orom Subcounty in Kitgum district in December last year.

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Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF has turned down a request by the South Sudan government officials to hand over guns and ammunition captured from suspected South Sudan bandits.

During a bilateral security meeting held in Orom sub-county headquarters in Kitgum District on Tuesday, the South Sudan officials asked for the return of the weapons to help them pin the suspected bandits captured inside Uganda territory by UPDF.

They made the request shortly after 15 of their nationals intercepted between October and December last year in border areas of Lamwo and Kitgum districts were released from detention. The youthful suspects were intercepted in possession of four SMGs, three Mark five guns, one stick grenade, two grenades and 23 rounds of live ammunition. They were accused of terrorizing locals, theft of cattle and simsim.

The former Torit state Governor, Alberio Tobilio Oromo who accompanied the South Sudanese delegation during the meeting noted that releasing the suspects without evidence of the guns would affect their prosecution in court. Oromo asked UPDF to handover the guns and ammunition so that they are used as exhibits in courts of law to prosecute the suspects for criminal trespass with illicit weapons into a sovereign country.

He noted that there is likelihood that once the suspects are taken back to Eastern Equatorial state, they will be held briefly but released back to the community for lack of evidence.

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Auxilio Odum, the Deputy Secretary-General of Eastern Equatorial State, said his government is committed to ensure that the suspects are prosecuted but noted that they can only go behind bars with proof of the guns. He assured the UPDF and leaders of Kitgum district that once the guns are handed over, they won’t be returned into the hands of the suspects but rather used in prosecuting them.

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But their plea fell on deaf ears as the Fifth Infantry Division Commander; Brig William Bainomugisha maintained that the guns won’t be returned to South Sudan for security reasons. He also noted that the guns are still under investigation by ballistic experts, adding that once the forensic investigations are complete, they will be destroyed.

Kitgum Resident District Commissioner, William Komakech, said it’s the responsibility of the South Sudan government to ensure that the suspects are prosecuted but reiterated that handing over guns intercepted in a sovereign state is illegal. “We have done our part in capturing; detaining and now we have handed over the culprits back to you. It’s up to you to prosecute them or let them go free,” said Komakech.

In October last year, the UPDF handed over three SMGs belonging to South Sudan People Defense Forces-SSDF soldiers that had been captured following a clash between its personnel and SSDF soldiers at the contentious border in Lamwo District. Two SSDF soldiers were killed in the border skirmishes.