GULU. Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo has asked the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court to arrange for his immediate transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC), in The Hague, Netherlands, citing delays in his trial.
Kwoyelo, who had appeared before three-panel of judges of the ICD chaired by Justice Jane Persis Kiggundu at the Gulu High Court for his bail application hearing on Monday, said he had been denied justice for long.
Other judges are Mr Duncan Gaswaga and Mr Michael Elubu.
Kwoyelo told court on Monday that there seems to be no solution regarding his case at the domestic court, arguing that he prefers to be taken to ICC.
Justice Kiggundu, however, told the former warlord that ICD had already commenced his trial.
He fixed March 20 as the date Kwoyelo will appear in court for his bail application hearing.
The trial delay
The trial of Kweyelo has dragged on since 2015 after the Supreme Court overturned his amnesty application.
He has since been incarcerated at Luzira Maximum prison.
He is facing 93 charges that include murder, pillaging, sexual violence, robbery, attempted murder, hostage taking and kidnap that he allegedly committed in Pabbo Sub-county, Kilak County in the present day Amuru District between March 1993 and 2005. He denies all the charges.
Mr Caleb Alaka, the accused’s defence lawyer, told Daily Monitor in an interview that his client was right to ask ICD to refer him to ICC since the court demonstrated lack of capacity.
“The trial has delayed for the last 10 years, he went to the Constitutional Court but the Supreme Court made its decision long ago. He was airing out his frustration, there was no way forward and the Constitution says he is entitled to fair and speedy trial,” Mr Alaka said.
Mr Alaka, however, noted that it may not be a simple move because ICC does its own investigation.
Mr Charles Dalton Opwonya, also Kwoyelo’s defence lawyer, on Wednesday slammed the ICD Court and described their operation as ‘gimmick’.
He said the ICD are trying to show the world they can operate yet in actual sense they cannot.
Prosecution yesterday presented before court the first expert witness, Mr Fabius Okumu Aliya, a senior lecturer at the Institute of International Criminal Justice at Nkumba University, who tendered in court a 182 paged research report of the conflict build-up in northern Uganda.
However, during cross-examination on Wednesday, Kwoyelo’s defence lawyers poked holes in the research report, citing that the researcher never reached the areas where the crimes were allegedly committed nor did he interview the victims affected.
Mr Alaka, told the court that the report also did not indicate that Kwoyelo was the backbone of the LRA nor did he voluntarily join the LRA.
Kwoyelo is the first LRA commander to be prosecuted in Uganda for crimes committed during the two-decade war in northern Uganda that left thousands dead and millions displaced. Kwoyelo has been in detention since he was captured by the Ugandan army in 2008.
Dominic Ongwen, one of the five Indicted LRA commanders, is currently facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is alleged to have committed the crimes between July 2002 and December 2005 in northern Uganda. He has denied all the charges.