Death sentences for two Ugandan soldiers, long jail sentences for other three for killing civilians.
For the killings of civilians, two Ugandan People's Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) have been condemned to death and three others to 39 years in prison.
The three will be returned to Uganda to serve out their sentences. According to the AU, the civilians were unjustly killed during a gun battle in Golweyn between its troops and al-Shabab extremists. Amisom, the African Union's peacekeeping mission, has been in Somalia for 14 years.
It has been fighting the Islamist group al-Shabab, which has a stronghold in portions of the country. Uganda accounts for about one-third of Amisom's 20,000 troops, making it the largest national contingent. Uganda's court martial verdict comes a month after the AU revealed its intention to expand its military action in Somalia, subject to UN and Somali government approval.
"In Somalia, our aim is to degrade al-Shabab and other armed groups. In doing so, we have a clear obligation to safeguard the civilian population "Brig Gen Don Nabasa, commander of the Ugandan force, said in a statement on Saturday. According to VOA, some of the victims' families attended court sessions in the Somali city of Mogadishu, which were organized by Uganda.
"We are quite satisfied with the court judgment and expect compensation to be provided to the families of those deceased," a spokesman for the grieving relatives, Hussein Osman Wasuge, is cited as saying. According to him, one of the bereaved and six Ugandan soldiers were allowed to testify.