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More than 120 Witnesses to Pin Thomas Kwoyelo in Court

He will enter a plea for the charges on Tuesday, the second day of his trial before the International Crimes Division of the High Court, presided over by a panel of three Judges; Jane Persis Kiggundu, Michael Elubu and Duncan Gaswaga.
The Judges of the International Crimes Division During Opening of the Trial on Monday

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The state has lined up 120 witnesses to pin Thomas Kwoyelo, the former commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Kwoyelo is facing 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, arising out of atrocities committed while commanding LRA operations in Kilak Hill from which Abera and Pagak villages and Pabbo Internally Displaced Persons' camp in Amuru district, were attacked and destroyed between 1993 and 2005.

He will enter a plea for the charges on Tuesday, the second day of his trial before the International Crimes Division of the High Court, presided over by a panel of three Judges; Jane Persis Kiggundu, Michael Elubu and Duncan Gaswaga.

Justice Michael Elubu, a member of the panel said the prosecution has lined up more than 120 witnesses to support its case. Justice Duncan Gaswaga, a Member of the panel said the ongoing plea taking session will last up to Friday due to the numerous counts which the accused is facing.

After Friday, he said, sessions will be conducted in blocks with the first commencing on November 5 to November 15 due to logistical challenges. Justice Gaswaga said they don't expect further delays after losing eight years in constitutional battles.

 

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But defense lawyers led by Charles Dalton Opwonya said Kwoyelo is yet to read and comprehend the translated version of the indictment. Opwonya accused the prosecution of hiding the indictment sheet from the accused saying they just served him a copy on Monday as the trial started.

Opwonya said it would be unfair to subject Kwoyelo to plea taking without being provided with the translated copies of the indictment sheet. He asked the court to ensure that the rights of the accused are upheld as international standards demand including providing him meals from within court.

However, Charles Richard Kaamuli, the lead state prosecutor disagreed with Opwonya that the state had not done adequate disclosure to enable effective defense of the accused. He said disclosure of evidence had been done and more can be done this week.

The process also suffered preliminary delays over the absence of Kwoyelo's preferred language interpreter Agnes Akello.

Henry Komakech Kilama, the counsel representing the victims in the trial said they are interested in asking the court to disclose the status of the application for victims' participation in the trial saying there are 94 presumed victims seeking admission into the case.

Kwoyelo was captured on March 2, 2009, with injuries sustained in a fierce battle with troops of Uganda People's Defense Forces in Garamba National Park, where the LRA had shifted its fighting base in 2005.  He has been awaiting trial from Luzira Maximum Prisons since 2015 when his Amnesty application was rejected by the Supreme Court.

The prosecution alleges that Kwoyelo willfully commanded systematic inhumane attacks on civilians who were raped, Kidnapped, murdered, enslaved, tortured and imprisoned. Many were also enlisted into LRA ranks as fighters.