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DPP Asks ICD to Convict Kwoyelo of War Crimes :: Uganda Radionetwork
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DPP Asks ICD to Convict Kwoyelo of War Crimes

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Florence Akello, an Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions told the panel of judges of the International Crimes Division of the High Court (ICD) that the directorate will adduce the necessary incriminating evidence to convict Kwoyelo of the serious offences.
13 Mar 2019 07:42
Thomas Kwoyelo At The ICD

Audio 6


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The Directorate of Public Prosecutions has asked the International Crimes Division of the High Court to convict the former Commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army Thomas Kwoyelo of war crimes and crimes against humanity, alongside sexual and gender-based crimes.     

The plea was made as the DPP started submitting evidence at the sitting of the Court in Gulu on Tuesday. This is the first domestic trial directly emanating from the conflict in Northern Uganda. It is presided by a panel of four Judges; Persis Jane Kiggundu, Michael Elubu, Duncan Gaswaga and Stephen Mubiru.   

Florence Akello, an Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions told the panel of judges of the International Crimes Division of the High Court (ICD) that the directorate will adduce the necessary incriminating evidence to convict Kwoyelo of the serious offences.  

//Cue in; “In respect to crimes…

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Akello said they are in possession of evidence which will demonstrate to the court that Kwoyelo personally masterminded, directly commanded troops or physically executed widespread systematic attacks on protected civilian population who were not participating in the conflict with the government.  

She said Kwoyelo masterminded nine attacks of civilian populations in areas around Kilak Hills in present-day Amuru district where he operated.    

//Cue in; “The court will hear…

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She says they will use about 130 witnesses, 360 exhibits, pictures, medical notes, post mortem reports, videos and newspapers extracts amongst other sets of evidence to prove Kwoyelo guilty of the offences.   

//Cue in; “Prosecution has about…

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Shortly after the opening statement, the prosecution introduced the first expert witness in the case Fabious Okumu Alya, an International Criminal Justice law don in Nkumba University to provide a contextual background of the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.  

Okumu presented a research report of 182 pages divided into 10 chapters to the court. He says the report details the historical background to the conflict, thematic approach to the country’s post-independence constitutional ups and downs, social and cultural anthropology of the Acholi ethnic group before, during and after the conflict amongst others.  

Court admitted the witness as Prosecution Witness Number One (PW1) while his report was admitted as Prosecution Evidence Number One (PE1).  

Kwoyelo was charged with up to 93 counts of sexual and gender-based crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity, which he allegedly committed during the conflict which lasted for two decades in Northern Uganda.  He denied all the charges which include murder, rape, sexual slavery and recruiting child soldiers.   

Kwoyelo’s defence lawyers say he is a victim but not a criminal, as he was abducted by the LRA at an early age. Caleb Alaka, Kwoyelo’s lead lawyer says they will make an opening statement in the course of the trial.   Alaka indicated that they intend to demonstrate to Court that Kwoyelo was not in Uganda at the times of the charged crimes.  

He says they will show the court that he was in South Sudan and that he unsuccessfully tried to escape the Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion. 

//Cue in; “We shall also demonstrate…

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According to Alaka, the price for exiting the LRA was so dire that Kwoyelo could have lost his life in the course. He said bosses of the accused served him gunshot lessons in a bid to prevent him from escaping after they got him trying to escape the rebel outfit. He said the escape attempt earned him the death of his father Omona Jokodino.  

//Cue in; “My Lords, we shall demonstrate…

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He said they will also demonstrate to Court that Kwoyelo was grossly discriminated against by the government which brought the 93 charges against him, deprived of childhood and joyful adulthood. The others he said is to demonstrate that the LRA operated under strict spiritualism complicated by strange militarism dominated by deadly threats. 

 

According to Alaka, Kwoyelo never had command responsibility in the Lord’s Resistance Army or had troops of his own. He said this is why he was never indicted by the International Criminal Court like Raska Lukwiya, Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen. He said the accused is grateful to the court that the trial has finally begun after a long wait.  

//Cue in; “My Lords, before you here…

Cue out…talking about if proved.”//  

More than 200,000 people lost their lives in LRA attacks during the Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion in Northern Uganda since the group was founded in 1987. Tens of thousands of others survived atrocities they say the group committed. But it will be for judges at the ICD to determine whether Kwoyelo is guilty or was another of the LRA's hundreds of thousands of victims. 

  

Four Lawyers are representing the Directorate of Public Prosecutions, namely Williams Byansi, Senior Director of Public Prosecutions; Charles Richard Kamuuli, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions; Florence Akello, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions and Lillian Alobo Omara – senior State Attorney.  

Those of the Defense side consist of state briefs Charles Dalton Opwonya and Borris Anyuru while Caleb Alaka and Evans Ochieng are on the instructions of Thomas Kwoyelo.  Victims participating in the trial are being represented by Henry Komakech Kilama and Jane Amooti.