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Kwoyelo Trial Resumes Tuesday, Lawyers Secure New Dossier

The handwritten material was presented in an exercise book which Kwoyelo handed to his defense lawyers Caleb Alaka, Charles Dalton Opwonya and Evans Ochieng. He took moments within the courtroom to run through the writings with the lawyers, who jointly converged at the accused stand just before court resumed in the afternoon.
Thomas Kwoyelo's Lawyer Caleb Alaka Going Through The Documents

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The trial against Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) resumes tomorrow at the International Crimes Division of the High Court, in Gulu.

This follows the adjournment of the case this afternoon, on the request of defense lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya, moments after he received from Kwoyelo, a document believed to contain a fresh set of defence material. 

The handwritten material was presented in an exercise book which Kwoyelo handed to his defense lawyers Caleb Alaka, Charles Dalton Opwonya and Evans Ochieng.  He took moments within the courtroom to run through the writings with the lawyers, who jointly converged at the accused stand just before court resumed in the afternoon.

Moments later, Opwonya, asked the court to adjourn the trial to allow them to peruse through a new set of evidence that had just been handed to them. Opwonya told the court that the dossiers are related to the 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that were read for Kwoyelo in the court.

The source of the dossier is unclear. However, it is believed that it was delivered by Grace Auma, Kwoyelo's wife who met him before the trail session. The contents of the dossier are also scanty.

Principal State Attorney Charles Richard Kamuuli had objected to the adjournment saying the court was in the middle of the sixth part of the Fourth count. But he was overruled by Justice Duncan Gaswaga who ruled that the matter should return to court tomorrow.

The Charges against Thomas Kwoyelo were confirmed at the pretrial stage of the judicial hearing presided over by Justice Suzan Okalany.  He is accused of murder, willful killing, kidnap and hostage taking amongst others. On Monday, 32 of the 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity were read out to him. He denied the charges as read out by Harriet Ssali Nalukwago, the deputy registrar of the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

The crimes have been grouped under different counts in relations to the various attacks on civilians that soldiers under the command of Thomas Kwoyelo are alleged to have carried out while operating in Kilak Hills in present day Amuru district.

Count one dealt with the murder of Albert Okwonga, a resident of Abera village in Pabbo Sub County while count two concerns an attack he is accused of commanding in February of 1996 in Pabbo.

Kwoyelo has been waiting for trial at Luzira Maximum Prisons since 2015 when his Amnesty application was overturned by the Supreme Court.

Today, Henry Komakech Kilama, the lawyer representing victims in the trial said they were happy that the long awaited trial has finally started.

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Similarly, Grace Auma, Kwoyelo's wife said she was pleased the trial has finally started and questioned why the process took such a long time. Her sentiments were reiterated by Kwoyelo's lead counsel Caleb Alaka.

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According to the State, 120 witnesses will testify against the former commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the trial expected to last two years at the International Crimes Division of the High Court.

A panel of three High Court Judges; Jane Persis Kiggundu, Michael Elubu and Duncan Gaswaga is presiding over the historic domestic trial.

The International Crimes Division was created in 2008 to try offences relating to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, terrorism, human trafficking, piracy and other international crimes as provided for under the penal code Act, the Geneva Convention, the International Criminal Court Act.