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Court dismisses Kwoyelo’s application to deliver un-sworn testimony 

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The International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court has dismissed an application by former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo to deliver un-sworn testimony in the ongoing trial.

Kwoyelo, who is facing 78 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda between 1987 and 2005, was set to start his defense today. Led by his lawyer Evans Ochieng, Kwoyelo had lined up 15 witnesses to defend him in court, some of whom are family members.

 The nature of the testimony meant that the prosecutors would not be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.

The panel of Judges led Andrew Bashaija, Stephen Mubiru, Michael Elubu, and Duncan Gaswaga is today expected to conclude the hearing of the matter against Kwoyelo. 

Kwoyelo’s trial resumed on April 17, 2023, at the International Crimes Division of the High Court (ICD) sitting at Gulu High Court in Gulu City, Northern Uganda; however, it stalled due to a lack of funds.

Having commenced the trial on September 24, 2018, the court had its first prosecution witnesses testify in March 2019, and since then, trial sessions have been held periodically between Kampala and Gulu.

Kwoyelo is facing charges of murder, aggravated robbery, extensive destruction of property, causing serious injury to body or health, and inhumane treatment, rape, and torture, among others, that he is alleged to have committed against the civilian population of northern Uganda, southern Sudan, and the northeastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Kwoyelo was abducted by the LRA on his way to school in 1987, remained in captivity, and later became a colonel.

The worst attack of the paramilitary group that was under the leadership of Joseph Kony occurred in Haute-Hele Province (DRC) in December 2008, the so-called Christmas massacre, where over 200 people were killed and over 800 houses razed down.

The rebels split up into groups to attack the villages of Faradje, Batande, Duru, Bangadi, and Burgi. They waited until people had gathered for Christmas festivities, then surrounded and killed them with axes, machetes, and clubs.

In March 2009, Kwoyelo was injured during hostilities between the Ugandan army and the LRA in the DRC and brought into Uganda for medical treatment and subsequently into custody.

His trial, however, commenced in July 2011. Before ICD, a division of Uganda’s High Court Constitutional Court resolved that the suspect’s trial should stop as it found grounds for the failure by the DPP and the Amnesty Commission to act on Kwoyelo’s application. In 2015, the Supreme Court decided that Kwoyelo’s trial should resume.

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