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Kwoyelo Picks 30 Defence Witnesses as ICD Fixes Trial Date :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Kwoyelo Picks 30 Defence Witnesses as ICD Fixes Trial Date

Juliet Harty Hatanga, the Deputy Registrar of the Division told Uganda Radio Network Monday that Kwoyelo’s Defence team has so far lined up 30 defense witnesses for the trial hearing commencing next week at Gulu High Court.
Ex-LRA leader Thomas Kwoyelo (C) interacts with his lawyer Caleb Alaka (R) at Gulu High Court.

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The International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda has fixed April 15 this year for the commencement of the defence trial of the former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo alias Latoni.

This comes nearly four months after the Court ruled that Kwoyelo had a case to answer in 78 out of 93 cases of war crimes and crimes against Humanity he had been charged with and asked him to put up a defense.

In a ruling held on December 18, 2023, at the Gulu High Court Circuit, the four panel of justices of the ICD acquitted Kwoyelo of 15 charges due to insufficient, or lack of evidence presented by the prosecution.

Juliet Harty Hatanga, the Deputy Registrar of the Division told Uganda Radio Network Monday that Kwoyelo’s Defence team has now far lined up 30 defense witnesses for the trial hearing commencing next week at Gulu High Court.

Hatanga notes that the witnesses lined up include experts who will be presented by the Defence lawyers to counter the Prosecution’s submissions in court. The prosecution closed its case in April this year after presenting 53 state witnesses pinning Kwoyelo over war crimes and crimes against Humanity charges.

She says the commencement of the defense trial is a milestone for the division given the complexity of the case that involves the technicality of the judges, huge financial resources, witness tracing, and protection.

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Hatanga noted that the court has also made a ruling for the deduction of names of defense witnesses on March 11 this year for their protection from harm, and intimidation. According to Hatanga, the personal details of nine defense witnesses have been concealed for their safety before appearing for the trial.

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She revealed that the defense lawyers have already filed disclosures of the evidence and witnesses they intend to present in court to the Prosecution team on March 15 this year.

Kwoyelo's defence lawyers include Caleb Alaka, Dalton Opwonya, Geoffrey Boris Anyuru, and Evans Ochieng.

Dalton Opwonya, the accused defence lawyer told URN in an interview Monday that they are ready for the defence trial come next week.

Between January and February this year, the ICD team comprising Justices Susan Okalany and Richard Wabwire, the Deputy Registrar, prosecution, Kwoyelo’s defense lawyers, and victim’s counsel undertook outreaches in parts of Amuru district where Kwoyelo allegedly committed human rights violations. The team met with relatives and victims of Kwoyelo's alleged crimes and visited areas of rights violations and victims' grave sites in the build-up for the defense trial.

Kwoyelo is the first senior LRA commander facing trial in the domestic court in Uganda over allegations of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity and has been in custody at Luzira Maximum Prison since 2009. The crimes were allegedly committed between 1992 and 2005 in areas of Pabbo and Lamogi Sub-counties in Kilak County in the present-day Amuru district.

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