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Jail term for top Ugandan officer

Major General James Kazini
The charges against Kazini date back to 1999

Uganda's former army chief James Kazini has been sentenced to three years' jail for causing "financial loss".

The court martial on Thursday also found him not guilty of creating ghost soldiers on the army payroll, forgery and of issuing false documents.

Maj Gen Kazini led Ugandan forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo until 2001, when he was withdrawn amid claims he had profited from plunder.

The charges against him date to 1999 and are unconnected with DR Congo.

They stem from irregularities in the army payroll, which cost the government around $36,000 ($18,000).

Kazini was convicted along with two other officers, while his aide de camp, Lt Kenneth Ayebare, was acquitted, Uganda's New Vision newspaper reported.

Kazini's lawyers say they will appeal against the verdict.

DR Congo role

Allegations against Kazini were first made in two United Nations reports, at a time when Uganda had a heavy military presence in eastern DR Congo, supporting the rebellion against President Laurent Kabila and later against current President Joseph Kabila.

Although Kazini was withdrawn from DR Congo in 2001, the Ugandan government protested his innocence and appointed him acting army chief.

The government nevertheless set up a judicial commission of inquiry into the UN's allegations.

As a result of the inquiry the government recommended that action be taken against Kazini, and he was removed from his post as acting head of the army in 2003.

An army spokesman said at the time that Kazini's removal from office was unconnected with the UN accusations, and that he was being sent for further training.

He is the first person of such high rank to be convicted and jailed, and news of his sentencing will probably be welcomed in the Rwandan capital Kigali, the BBC's Sarah Granger reports from Kampala.

Kazini was in charge of Ugandan troops who clashed with their Rwandan counterparts in the eastern Congolese town of Kisangani in 1999.



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SEE ALSO
Profile: Major General James Kazini
13 Nov 09 |  Africa
Timeline: Democratic Republic of Congo
09 Feb 08 |  Country profiles
Top Ugandan army officer sacked
06 Jun 03 |  Africa

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