Thomas Kwoyelo trial set for September 23 in Gulu

Principal Judge Dr Yorokamu Bamwine [circled] with judges in Gulu on Friday.

Thomas Kwoyelo at Gulu High Court during trial. Courtesy photo.

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The trial of Colonel Thomas Kwoyelo, one of the former rebels of Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] is set to take place in Gulu at Gulu High Court next month.

Ahead of his trial next month, on Friday morning, the Principal Judge, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine and a delegation he led inspected Gulu High Court to assess its preparedness for the trial.

The Principal Judge who was flanked by the Gulu Resident Judge, Stephen Mubiru, and International Crimes Division Court Deputy Registrar, Harriet Nalukwago Ssali, also met with lawyers set to participate in the trial.

“The lawyers shared their expectations for the trial slated to start on September 23,” the Judiciary said.

Mr. Opesen Thaddeus, the Gulu Court Assistant Registrar, took the Principal Judge on a guided tour of the premises.

One of the resolutions arrived at during the Inspection tour was that the ICD Deputy Registrar engages the Registrar High Court to ensure that everything is in place for the trial.

Principal Judge Dr Yorokamu Bamwine [M] and deputy ICD registrar Harriet Nalukwago Ssali in Gulu Friday.

However, it was also observed that save for court recorders and other things needed for witness protection are not in place.

Some of the missing items include curtains for all the court hall windows, a customized curtain box fitted around the witness box to shield the protected witness among others.

The Principal Judge equally toured Gulu Prison to weigh the facility’s preparedness to host Mr. Kwoyelo.

Early this month, a team from the International Criminal Court visited the Gulu High Court to help with preparations for the high profile trial scheduled for next month.

Who is Kwoyelo, his trial background

Thomas Kwoyelo was born in Pabbo, northern Uganda. In 1987, he was abducted by LRA rebels on his way to school. That same year, LRA under Joseph Kony formed a rebel group – LRA.

He was promoted to the rank of a Colonel.

In June 2009, Kwoyelo was charged with crimes under Uganda Penal Code.

In addition, in 2010,  he was charged with grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, pursuant to Article 147 of Uganda’s 1964 Geneva Conventions Act.

He was accused of willful killing of civilians, taking hostages, extensive destruction of property, causing grave injuries to body or health and inhuman treatment.

In 2010, Kwoyelo applied for amnesty under the Amnesty Act which was passed by Uganda government in 2000 and was meant to offer immunity to rebels who denounced rebellion.

Then, the Director of Public Prosecutions [DPP] and Amnesty Commission did not act on his application.

On 11 July, his trial started before the International Crimes Division [ICD], a division of Uganda’s High Court.

On 22 September, 2011, the Constitutional Court decided that Kwoyelo’s trial should stop as it found no reasonable grounds for the failure by the Director of Public Precautions [DPP] and Amnesty Commission to act on Kwoyelo’s application.

Kwoyelo, on 23 November, 2011 filed a complaint to the Uganda High Court in Kampala requesting to be amnestied. Even so, the DPP denied his request in February 2012.

The Supreme Court, on the 8, April, 2015 decided that Kwoyelo was properly indicted and charged before the ICD of the High Court and that his trial should resume.

Preliminary hearings commenced on 1 February, 2017 in Kampala and he was indicted on 93 counts, among them murder, rape, defilement, destruction of crops and property, among others.

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