Hearing of the case against Thomas Kwoyelo, the former LRA director of operation failed to take off today before the International Crimes Division Court in Gulu leaving several people who packed the courtroom to listen to the proceedings stranded.
The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, the former LRA director of operation failed to take off today before the International Crimes Division Court in Gulu leaving several people who packed the courtroom to listen to the proceedings, stranded. Last month, Judges of the International Crimes Division Court set 15th August as the date for starting the trial of Kwoyelo.
He is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against Humanity during his involvement in the LRA rebellion. This morning, the trial of Kweyelo was expected to start in court in vain. None of the court officials could explain to the anxious residents why the trial had failed to take off. Tadeo Aiimwe, the Kampala-based Registrar of the International Crimes Division of the High Court told Uganda Radio Network that the hearing has been put on hold pending a constitutional ruling on some of the objections raised by the accused when he appeared in court on July 25.
He says once the Supreme Court rules on the objections, then another date would be set for his next court appearance. Kwoyelo’s lawyers are challenging a decision by state lawyers to deny them full disclosure to some of the prosecution witnesses and information to be used in the trial. They are also demanding an explanation why the Director of public Prosecution has not responded to Kwoyelo’s application for amnesty, which he allegedly made in January 2010 while at Luzira prison where he denounced rebellion.
Caleb Alaka, Kwoyelo’s lead lawyer said the Amnesty Commission wrote to the DPP indicating that Kwoyelo qualified to receive amnesty however; the DPP has failed to respond to the application. Granting amnesty to Kwoyelo would most likely signal an end to his trial. Under Amnesty Act Chapter 294, amnesty is defined as a pardon, forgiveness, exemption or discharge from criminal prosecution or any form of punishment.
Many critics have said that Kwoyelo’s case will provide a trial for both the suspect and the transitional justice system in the country. Kwoyelo is the first member of the LRA rebel group to appear before court in regard to the activities committed during the two decade northern Uganda insurgency that left many people maimed and killed. Four other top commanders remain wanted by the International Criminal Court while many others both in senior and low ranks have already been granted amnesty by the government.
trial of thomas kwoyelo
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