The International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court has set 2nd May in Gulu district as the commencement of the trial of former senior commander of the Lords Resistance Army Thomas Kwoyelo.
The pretrial conference held on Monday has been carried out one year after the Supreme Court. The state has lined up 113 witnesses to testify against former commander.
“They have 113 witnesses and unless we do it like we did this other case of terror suspects, I don’t think it’s going to be an easy trial for all the parties involved,” says Caleb Alaka, Thomas Kwoyelo’s lead lawyer. The former rebel boss’ defence team also has Nicholas Opiyo, Onyango Owor and Evans Ochieng.
Kwoyelo is charged with twelve counts of cases including murder, rape, defilement, recruitment of children into rebel ranks and the destruction of property and crops during the insurgency that ended in 2006.
Kwoyelo was captured in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) in 2008. While in custody, he made a declaration denouncing rebellion and sought amnesty. In March 2010, the Amnesty Commission forwarded his application to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for consideration. The DPP did not respond to this letter but instead charged Kwoyelo with various offences under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Conventions Act.
In April 2015, the Supreme Court overturned the decision that Kwoleyo deserved amnesty through the Uganda v. Thomas Kwoyelo, Constitutional Appeal No. 01 of 2012, paving the way for the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court to exercise its judicial mandate to try grave crimes and consequently realize the principle of complementarity that is at the heart of the Rome Statute.