UGANDA -Releases detained SSPDF soldiers
By James Atem Kuir
The South Sudan People’s Defense Force (SSPDF) has confirmed that five of their personnel and their ten civilian associates have been released after over two months of detention for illegal crossing.
On Wednesday this week, Media reports indicated that 15 SSPDF personnel who illegally entered through Ugandan border districts of Kitgum and Lamwo over two months ago were released after joint meeting between army officials from both countries.
But the acting spokesperson of the SSPDF, Brig. Gen. Santo Domic said only five of the said former detainees were former SSPDF combatants while the other 10 happened to be their civilian associates.
“They are fifteen but not all of them were soldiers. Only five are actually former combatants during the SPLA liberation but have not reported to any of our organized forces, the rests are just civilians who have also happened to be members of the communities living across the two borders,” he affirmed.
Gen. Domic further stressed that the 10 civilians were native hunters who move about the area along the two border, adding that they didn’t possessed firearms and they did not commit any crime at the time of arrest.
He reported that the 5 military personnel and their civilian companions were charged for illegal crossing with firearms and accompanying arms and being associates of criminals.
“Only the five soldiers were armed but of course they were just accused together for accompanying arms and being associates of criminals,” he said.
He added that a court in the Ugandan town of Gulu found that there was no evidence of specific crime committed by the soldiers and their associates and as a result, they dropped the charges, leading the their release on Wednesday.
“They were arrested and taken to court after two months and the verdict came out that there was no crime or evidence of crime against them. They were not terrorists but were ignorant of the borderlines,” he said, adding that the just released personnel have been pardoned but will be sent for training to instill discipline.