Col Shaban Bantariza has this morning been acquitted of defrauding the state of Shs 67m.
The General Court Martial at Makindye dropped all the five charges brought against Bantariza, the former Head of the National Leadership Institute (Nali) at Kyankwanzi, of five charges.
Led by Maj Gen Levi Karuhanga, the judges cleared Col Bantariza of fraudulent appropriation, forgery, conspiracy to defraud ill-treatment of subordinates and conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline of the army.
Col Bantariza was arrested in 2013 and charged with seven offences which included alleged fraudulent appropriation, forgery, conspiracy to defraud, ill-treatment of a subordinate and conduct prejudicial to good conduct of the UPDF.
He was charged and remanded to Makindye Military prison.
Prosecution alleges that on February 3, 2011, he received a tractor to wit, an ITMCO Reg. No. UAN 652Z and its accessories donated to NALI by the Ministry of Finance but instead chose to put it to personal use.
Prosecution alleges that he received a donated tractor and claimed to had purchased it at Shs 67m.
In one of the charges, Col Bantariza was accused of keeping fuel for a tractor meant to run activities of Nali at his home in Bweyogerere.
In their ruling today, court martial judges say the tractor was purchased and not donated by the ministry of Finance as earlier alleged.
The judges also concurred that prosecution had failed to present witnesses from the ministry of Finance pinning the accused to the crime.
Bantariza was represented by lawyer Frank Kanduho.
After the ruling, the excited Colonel called for a celebration at his home-town in Busenyi district.
He declared total amnesty for those who were fighting him.
“For all those who have been associated or involved in my trial, I declare total amnesty. Even Jesus Christ said we should forgive and have mercy on others.”
Col Bantariza is a former seminarian from Kitabi Seminary, Bushenyi District.
He joined the Bush War in 1985.
After capturing power he was deployed in northern Uganda as a political commissar.
He worked closely with the late Maj Gen James Kazini and Brig Chefe Ali who oversaw operations against the LRA rebels.
In 2007, he was deployed as commandant of the army’s Oliver Thambo School, Kaweweta before being appointed to head NALI.