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Trial of Former LRA Commander Thomas Kwoyelo Postponed

Muyita told URN, that although the court has enough money for the usual cases, it requires at least 400 million to try Kwoyelo under the International Crimes Division. During the trial, all judges under the International Criminal Division will be moved to Gulu for a period of not less than one month.
29 Apr 2016 17:06
Kwoyelo appears for a hearing at the Gulu high court in 2011 being escorted by prison officers
The trial of former Lord's Resistance Army Commander Thomas Kwoyelo which was due to start on May 2 has been postponed due to lack of funds and need to dispose off all electoral petitions.

The trial has now been pushed to July 18 when all election petitions are expected to be cleared, and enough funding secured to facilitate the trial, Solomon Muyita, the senior communications officer of the Judiciary says.

Gulu High court where the trial of Thomas Kwoyelo was scheduled to start on May 2, is handling three election petitions which, according to Muyita, take precedent over all other cases.

Muyita told URN, that although the court has enough money for the usual cases, it requires at least 400 million to try Kwoyelo under the International Crimes Division. During the trial, all judges under the International Criminal Division will be moved to Gulu for a period of not less than one month.

Justice, Law and Order sector has already pledged funding for the trial, Muyita says. 

Kwoyelo's Lawyer Caleb Alaka says that the delay in the state of the trial is an injustice to the accused. He says that the accused feels unfairly treated and has failed to come to terms with the decision considering that several colleagues with whom he served in the ranks of the LRA have been granted amnesty.

Kwoyelo faces 12 charges relating to crimes committed during a war that ravaged northern Uganda for over two decades. Prosecution alleges that as one of the middle level commanders in the LRA, Kwoyelo planned, commanded and executed attacks committed against civilian populations in Northern Uganda.

The listed offenses include willful killing, extensive destruction of property, abduction murder, kidnap and robbery which he partook prior to his capture in December 2008.

He is the first person to face trial in Uganda for crimes committed while fighting for the Lord's Resistance Army. The other is Dominic Ongwen whose trial is set to start before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.

Last year, the Supreme Court ordered that Kwoyelo's trial resumes before the International Crimes Division of the High Court following a successful appeal by the Attorney General challenging the 2011 ruling of the Constitutional Court that held that Kwoyelo was entitled to amnesty protection just like other warlords; Kenneth Banya, Sam Kolo and 26,000 others, who denounced rebellion and were granted amnesty.

The Constitutional Court had concurred with Kwoyelo that the refusal by the DPP to certify him for amnesty was discriminatory in so far as it deprived him of equal protection of the law under article 21 of the constitution.

But the Supreme Court held that the DPP was not discriminatory in his work when he slapped over 50 criminal charges against Kwoyelo. The charges have since been reduced to 12.