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Somali Army: military courts to try uniformed officers

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Abdulaziz Billow Ali,

The Somali national army has reestablished its military courts in several of the towns recently captured from the Al-Shabaab fighters.

The military tribunal officially announced plans to hear crimes committed by uniformed officers against the Somali public in these towns.

The military court system in Somalia was established in 1963 when Somali army was one of Africa’s largest militaries, but collapsed with the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991.

However, the court was reestablished in August 2010 to carry out sentences on the then TFG forces as well others caught in criminal acts. Since then the court has enforced death penalty to dozens of soldiers accused of killing civilians or fellow servicemen.

Barely hours after it reopened its offices in Jowhar town, some 90 kms north of the capital Mogadishu, the court sentenced two of these men to five year in prison for forcefully taking money and mobile phones from passengers who were travelling on a public transport vehicle.

Somali Defense Minister on a visit to Jowhar town cautioned members of the Somali national army against looting property belonging to Somali civilians.

The military tribunal hopes to restore discipline back to the Somali military force. Such military courts have so far been opened in almost all the town captured from the Somali Al-Shabaab fighters to try government soldiers accused of committing crimes against both civilians and fellow members of the force.

He also argued that it was unfortunate to see men dressed in military uniform causing harm to the public bearing in mind the long struggle to liberate Somalis and Somalia from Al Shabaab.

With a permanent administration in place, the new Somali government hopes that the UN Security Council will revoke its two decade arms embargo on Somalia so as to equip the Somali army in its fight against militant groups and protecting its borders.

In recent months the Somali army has helped drive out Al-Shabaab fighters from a string of towns with help from AMISOM and Ethiopian troops, alongside other powerful local clan militia forces like Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa and the Ras Kamboni brigade.


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