Ghost Pilot Case: High Court Suspends Trial of the Accused in General Court Martial
High Court judge Lydia Mugambe has suspended the trial of three persons accused of causing government a financial loss of 2.7 billion shillings resulting from recruiting of a ghost pilot in the Uganda People’s Defense Air Force (UPDAF).
Since 2017, Caroline Kyakabale, a former Human Resource Manager at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Mbuya, Major Lubega Kapalaga formerly working under Medical Services of the Air force at Katabi Barracks and his wife Evas Twinomujuni have been facing trial before the Makindye based court martial on 2 fraudulent charges which caused government a loss of 2.7 billion shillings.
Kyakabale, not satisfied with the procedure at General Court Martial, through her lawyer Ronald Iduuli of Ojok and Company Advocates, petitioned High Court seeking to suspend her trial (civilian) in an army court since that court had no jurisdiction to try civilians and no clear charges were brought against her.
In her ruling, Mugambe allowed the application on grounds that although the applicant is charged with matters involving money from fictitious transactions, the Army Court doesn’t specify the exact offenses she is facing.
“The offence she is charged with should be specifically indicated for her to understand it well and prepare her defense as part of her fair hearing,” the Judge said.
Mugambe went further and pointed out that Kyakabale doesn’t have trust in the trial before the Court Martial, therefore, she is inclined that her right to fair hearing will be granted in civilian courts.
“Accordingly, this application is allowed. The trial of the Applicant in the court martial is hereby halted. If the Ministry of Defense so wishes, let it have the Applicant charged in the ordinary courts,” she ruled.
In the cases before the General Court Martial, it’s alleged that RO 05639 Major Kapalaga Lubega and Mrs Caroline Kyakabale and others still at large between the month of October 2005 and January 2016 caused the Ministry of Defense to sign an employment contract with a non-existing pilot purportedly to be a Russian by names Valerir Ketrisk.