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Kwoyelo’s Lawyers Ask State to Expedite Cross Examination Of Witnesses

Kwoyelo is charged with 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005 in Northern Uganda.
Thomas Kwoyelo (R) interacts with a Prison warden at Gulu High Court on Monday in Gulu City.

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 The lawyers of former Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo have asked the prosecution to expedite the cross-examination of witnesses.

The hearing of the case resumed on Monday before a panel of three justices of the International Crimes Division sitting at the Gulu High Court. The Justices are Duncan Gaswaga, Stephen Mubiru, and Michael Elubu.

Kwoyelo is charged with 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005 in Northern Uganda.

The state prosecution led by George William Byansi, the Deputy Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) on Monday presented the 25th witness to testify against Kwoyelo. 

The witness identified as TRD3 for her protection narrated to the court horrifying tales of her abduction and conscription into the LRA ranks. The witness said that she was abducted at 12 years from their home in Pabbo Sub-county in Amuru District in February 1996.

During her cross-examination, the witness told Court how her abductors commanded by Kwoyelo handed her over as a wife to one of the rebels only identified as Luwum.   

She noted that Luwum forcefully had sexual intercourse with her after threatening to kill her if she objects.

“Luwum said that I was now the wife, he asked me to undress, he pointed a gun at me and threatened to kill me if I didn’t undress. I undressed and he had sex with me three times that night, he raptured my private part and I bled seriously because it was my first time having sex,” She told the court.

The witness noted that she stayed for one month at the sickbay camp where she was forced to kill a young boy by hitting him on the back of the head on orders of a rebel commander only identified as Acama. 

According to her the children had attempted to escape the LRA camp the previous night but were caught.

She also narrated that when she made an escape after a month of living at the LRA camp, she was recaptured by the rebels a month later at their home village in Akore in Pabbo Sub-county and taken back into captivity. 

She says Kwoyelo was present when they recaptured her for the second time and told her she should be killed for escaping. She however says she was instead beaten severely with canes on orders of one of the Commanders Onen Kamdulu.

The witness says she was again taken back to Luwum as a wife on orders of Kwoyelo.

But the defense lawyer complained about the manner in which the prosecution cross-examined the witness alleging that there have been attempts to connect the witness’s statements to the accused even when they are not connected.

“My lord we are having problems with this type of examination, because it has been very consistent, the witness is telling us a factual story from the head but the prosecution wants to directly bring in the accused person instead of finding a simpler way of putting it,” says Alaka.

However, at 5 pm, Justice Mubiru adjourned the trial hearing to Tuesday morning citing it was already late.

The trial hearing is scheduled for 14 days in the Gulu High court. A total of 15 witnesses are expected to be cross-examined by the state prosecution.

Byansi says they will arraign eight witnesses this week and notes that they are hopeful to conclude the cross-examination.

But Alaka says the matter has dragged on for a long and casts doubts about whether all the witnesses will be examined given the fact that a full day ended without the state finishing cross-examining only one witness. He says the prosecution team should organize themselves to ensure the trial hearing proceeds faster.

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A total of 120 Prosecution witnesses have been lined up to testify against Kwoyelo by the state in the ongoing trials that commenced in September 2018.

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