He was captured recently by the Uganda People Defense Forces-UPDF as he was crossing from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Central African Republic.
Residents of Gulu, the home district of captured Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebel commander ‘Maj. Gen Caesar Achellam fear to openly discuss his fate. Achellam is a native of Bungatira Sub County in Kitgum district. He was captured recently by the Uganda People Defense Forces-UPDF as he was crossing from the Democratic Republic of Congo into Central African Republic.
His capture attracted both local and international attention because of his seniority in the rebel ranks.
The news of the capture of Achellam has been a topical issue in the country for nearly two weeks now as people debate on whether he should be pardoned or prosecuted. This week, Richard Butera, the Director of Public Prosecution weighed in saying Achellam might not qualify for amnesty.
Though, it’s an issue that has attracted worldwide media attention, in Gulu Achellam’s hometown few people openly discuss the fate of the former rebel leader. Several people who were contacted by URN on whether the former rebel commander should be forgiven or prosecuted declined to comment for fear of alleged retribution. Those who accepted to make comment argued that the rebel leader should be forgiven.
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However some people who accepted to be quoted want Achellam pardoned. Peter Okello who declined to mention where he comes from says government should pardon Achellam because he was allegedly working under the command of his bosses who directed him on what to do and he had no powers to oppose.
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Amos Okello, a second hand clothes dealer says Achellam should only be prosecuted if he was caught during combat. For Okello it will be bad to prosecute Achellam if he was captured while on his way in the jungle without any fight.
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Under the terms of the amnesty act of 2000, Achellam can qualify for amnesty if he chooses to apply for it. The Daily Monitor Newspaper today quoted a Non Governmental Organization-Enough project which aims at preventing genocide and crimes against humanity warning that prosecuting Achellam would have a disastrous effect to the peace process.
NGO advises that Achellam be pardoned so that other rebels can emulate him and come out of the bush to end the rebellion.