Alleged LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo attends his pre-trial hearing in Gulu, Uganda on 15 August 2016. Copyright: Benard Okot/Justice and Reconciliation Project.
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12 June 2017: Thomas Kwoyelo case update

14 June 2017 - 12:06

The case against alleged LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo at the International Crimes Division of the High Court is currently ongoing. Let’s Talk, Uganda contributor Brenda Nanyunja gives the latest updates of what is taking place in this case.

Last month, we reported that a hearing in Thomas Kwoyelo’s pre-trial at the International Crimes Division of the High Court was postponed to this month because his lawyers, the prosecution and judge in the case were attending a meeting in Entebbe. The postponement was also given to allow the defence to file a reply to an amended indictment in the case and also for the prosecution to make a response where necessary.

This week, the latest session in the case started off at around 10.30 am on 12 June at the High Court in Kampala. Two of the defence lawyers, Caleb Alaka and Evans Ocen, however, were not in court as they had matters before the Court of Appeal.

Request two more weeks

In court on 12 of June, Kwoyelo’s legal representative Charles Danton Opwonya began by informing the court that the defence's timetable had been full due to several workshops that they had been engaged in. Opwonya mentioned the training in Entebbe which ended on 10 May, a workshop at Kigo in Lweza between 25 and 27 May and also another workshop in Gulu which was intended to inform victims in the Kwoyelo case as to why the case is taking a long time. On those grounds, he requested the court for at least two more weeks to allow the defence to have their documents ready.

In their reply, prosecution lawyer Charles Kaamuli reiterated what the defence had said about having been engaged with workshops and trainings in Gulu, specifically highlighting that victims have been wondering what is taking them so long for the trial to be concluded. He also requested more time saying, however, that this should be the last time such extensions should be granted.

Ruling

In her ruling, the judge expressed concerns with the defence and prosecution’s requests, saying that the court had previously given both parties enough time to file the rejoinders but they have not reacted and that “the court’s hands are tied”. However, she issued a warning also that this should be the last time of such excuses and that court will go ahead to grant orders next time it convenes regardless of whether or not the parties have filed the necessary rejoinders.

She also called upon the other defence lawyers who were not present to ensure attendance next time. Defence team was given until 23 June to have their rejoinder filed and served. The next hearing will take place on the 18 July, 2017.

Brenda Nanyunja holds an LLM in Transnational Criminal Justice from the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa. She is reporting on the Thomas Kwoyelo case for Let’s Talk, Uganda from Kampala.

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