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Judiciary: Africa Court Ruling Will Not Stop Kwoyelo's Trial

The judiciary has said the ongoing trial of Thomas Kwoyelo,a former commander of the Lords Resistance Army will continue despite a ruling from the African court.
Thomas Kwoyelo being brought to court
The judiciary has said the on-going trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) will continue despite a ruling by the African court.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights court in its 62nd ordinary session in Banjul, Gambia last week ruled that Uganda has to pay Kwoyelo for illegal detention and violation of rights to fair trial.

Kwoyelo has been in detention since he was captured in 2009 and faces 93 charges of war crimes and crimes against him confirmed at the pre-trial stage. Kwoyelo who is being tried under the International Crimes Division (ICD), a special division of the high court that is accused of murder, rape, kidnap, enslavement and torture among others.

His trial that resumed barely two weeks ago was deferred to November.

His crimes stem from the northern Uganda's insurgency that saw the killing of thousands, abductions of many and displacement into Internally displaced persons camps. The State alleged that Kwoyelo willfully commanded systematic attacks on civilians in order to further LRA plans.

Now the judiciary says that although the court has ruled, Uganda is a sovereign nation, that is conducting a just trial and proceedings will continue in November.

According to Solomon Muyita, the spokesperson of the Judiciary, it is true the trial of the ex LRA commander has delayed, but part of the delay was because of the accused, who preferred to stop the trial on grounds that he applied for amnesty.

He says coupled with the delay, Kwoyelo has never applied for bail.

"Kwoyelo just like any other accused person is entitled to bail, but we do not know the reasons why his lawyers did not apply for the bail, " said Muyita.

He says as the Judiciary, they call upon all the parties involved to accelerate the trial. He says as for now the accused has to continue with trial unless the Directorate of public prosecution (DPP) advises otherwise.

According to Muyita, as far as they are concerned now, the trial will continue.

He however says that the orders from court will be responded to formally, by the Attorney General who will either challenge it or comply. He says this will also look at the concerns raised on the illegality of his detention, and the Attorney General will also have to see if there is an issue of compensation or not.

The African court faulted the Supreme Court of Uganda for failure to provide reasons for its decision when it stayed the execution of the orders of the Constitutional Court which had ruled that Kwoyelo be released from detention and granted amnesty.

The court ruled that the action of the Supreme Court denied Kwoyelo a right to be tried within a reasonable time.

In its ruling, the African Commission ordered that government report back on progress of Kwoyelo's compensation within a period not less than 180 days.

In 2010, the Constitutional Court had ruled that Kwoyelo was eligible for amnesty but before his release, the state appealed the decision before the Supreme Court which halted the constitutional court directive and ordered for trial of the former LRA commander before the International Crimes Division.

Kwoyelo is detained at Luzira prison where he has been held for the last eight years.

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