The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, also known as Latoni, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels led by Joseph Kony is set to kick off tomorrow, Monday before the International Crimes Division of the High Court, the Nile Post has learnt.
The same court sitting in Kampala and presided over by Justice Susan Okalany confirmed charges against Kwoyelo before committing him for trial.
“The court has found substantial evidence that supports charges against Thomas Kwoyelo alias Latoni to the standard required,” Justice Okalany said on August 30.
However, according to a message by the judiciary senior communications officer, Solomon Muyita, the trial Division before a panel of three judges including Michael Elubu, Duncan Gaswaga and Jane Kiggundu is set to kick off.
“The long awaited trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army’s former combatant and commander Thomas Kwoyelo kicks off on Monday September 24 at the High Court in Gulu,”Muyita said in a message.
“The trial is expected to go on marathon for the first two weeks.”
Kwoyelo was at one time the director of intelligence and operations for Kony’s rebel group that terrorised Northern Uganda between 1987 and 2005 was arrested by UPDF in Central African Republic in 2009 and is set to be tried over crimes committed during the war.
The rebel commander was captured in 2009 from DRC faces 93 counts in relation to charges including murder, hostage taking, kidnap with intent to murder, aggravated robbery among others.
Prosecution alleges that between 1993 and 2005 in the present day Amuru district in Northern Uganda, Kwoyelo with others still at large being a commander of the LRA directed an attack to murder and kidnap civilians who were taking no active part in the hostilities.
According to prosecution, Kwoyelo after being enlisted into LRA, he underwent training before rising through various ranks to becoming a commander based in present day Amuru district.
He is accused of masterminding attacks on villages where rebels under his command opened fire at civilians killing many of them.
Prosecution also alleges that Kwoyelo is directly responsible for kidnap, murder, hostage taking ,aggravated robbery, rape, torture, attempted murder and enslavement among other crimes against humanity committed by rebels under his command.
Relying on witnesses who were victims of the alleged crimes, the state in its indictment says the rebels attacked villages before killing, looting and setting grass thatched houses on fire.
“One witness says the rebels attacked a village in Amuru district and took hostages but they(hostages) were later found dead with hands tied at their backs and heads with wounds,” reads in part the indictment.
Kwoyelo is the first LRA commander to be tried locally after his fellow commander Dominic Ongwen was taken to the International Crimes Division sitting in Hague to battle with charges related to crimes against humanity.