The trial of former LRA warlord Thomas Kwoyelo started in Gulu yesterday with prosecution presenting its first witness in the case.
Prosecution said they are ready to present to court 130 witnesses and 360 exhibits.
Thomas Kwoyelo is being tried at the International Crime division seating in Gulu on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The state prosecutor Florence Akello told court that prosecution wants the victims to get justice.
The defence team led by Caleb Alaka in their opening statement said Kwoyelo cannot be tried for the crimes because he was a victim of the insurgency.
Alaka said while in the bush, Kwoyelo tried to escape but because he was indoctrinated by Joseph Kony he could not.
In June 2009 Kwoyelo was charged with crimes under Uganda’s penal code. In addition, he was charged with grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, pursuant to Art.147 of Uganda’s 1964 Geneva Conventions Act in August 2010, including willful killing of civilians, taking of hostages, extensive destruction of property, causing serious injury to body or health and inhuman treatment.
In 2010 Kwoyelo applied for amnesty under the Amnesty Act, which was passed by Uganda’s government in 2000 and offers impunity for rebels who denounced rebellion. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Amnesty Commission did not act on the application.
On 11 July 2011 his trial opened before the Uganda’s International Crimes Division (ICD), a division of Uganda’s High Court. On 22 September 2011, the Constitutional Court of Uganda decided that Kwoyelo’s trial should stop as it found no reasonable grounds for the failure by the DPP and the Amnesty Commission to act on Kwoyelo’s application.
On 23 November 2011, Kwoyelo filed a complaint in the High Court in Kampala requesting to be amnestied.
Nevertheless, the DPP denied his request in February 2012.
On 8 April 2015, the Supreme Court decided that Kwoyelo “was properly indicted and charged before the International Crimes Division of the High Court” and allowed his trial to resume.
Kwoyelo appeared on 1 February 2017 before the court in Kampala, for the start of the preliminary hearings.
Kwoyelo is indicted on 93 counts, including murder, rape, defilement, destruction of crops and property, recruitment of child soldiers and other crimes against humanity.