In 2004, President Yoweri Museveni named Gen Elly Tumwine as the chairman of the General Court Martial. Following his one-year term, Museveni reappointed him.
At the helm of the Makindye-based Military court, Tumwine presided over various cases including the martial of former Presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye. Besigye was in 2005 charged with treason.
During the court session, Tumwine ordered Besigye’s lawyers led by Erias Lukwago and Caleb Alaka to be arrested. They were arrested, tried, and convicted for contempt of court.
Tumwine sentenced them to a fine of Shs 1,000 in default of which they would serve two weeks in prison. Gen Tumwine was known for late coming, harassing civilian lawyers and absenteeism. He however denied all the allegations against him.
During his term, Tumwine is regarded as the army Court chairman who lacked touch with the law.
During his tenure, the former teacher charged the late Maj Gen James Kazini for creating ghost soldiers in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces. He was the 25th suspect to appear before the court over that matter. The matter was regarded as subversion.
Tumwine also prosecuted Gen Henry Tumukunde for creating ghost soldiers on the army payroll. He challenged Tumwine’s competence in the army court on the grounds that he participated in the meeting of senior military officers which was recommended for his trial.
He prosecuted Brig Stephen Kashaka for swindling government funds through the creation of ghost soldiers on army payroll.
He also detained William Pike, the former Editor in Chief at New Vision, and News Editor John Baptist Wasswa for publishing a story about the former Chief of Staff Brig Nakibus Lakara.
The prosecution contended that the story which Maurice Okore and Chandia allegedly wrote was likely to jeopardize national security. The journalists were later sentenced to Shs 1,000 fine.