The U.S. Mission has welcomed the opening of the war crimes trial against Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Commander Thomas Kwoyelo at the International Crimes Division – the first such atrocity crimes case brought before a Ugandan court.
After years of delay, victims have an opportunity to seek justice, and the defendant has an opportunity to contest the charges.
The U.S. Mission hopes this trial will contribute to justice, accountability, and the rule of law.
“We hope that it will help the country in its peaceful recovery from the horrific atrocities of the war in northern Uganda,” said US ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac.
She urged the Ugandan government to take steps to ensure justice and accountability for crimes committed during the war in northern Uganda.
“…and in other cases, such as the 2016 Kasese violence, where victims are still waiting for justice.”
Uganda Radio Network [URN] reports that Kwoyelo has asked the International Crimes Division of the High Court to transfer him to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands for trial.
Kwoyelo cites numerous delays in his trial for the request, saying he feels he has been denied justice in the domestic court.
He was speaking in Gulu High Court where the ICD was due to his bail application on Monday.
Speaking through an Acholi – English interpreter, Kwoyelo said he is sick and tired of waiting for justice in the International Crimes Division of the High Court designated to try him.
Kwoyelo asked to be sent to the International Criminal Court as he is sick of waiting for justice for many years.
He wondered why his case is taking too long to take off after the 2010 Kampala bombing suspects were speedily tried alongside other matters.
Justice Persis Jane Kiggundu, the chairperson of the three trial told Kwoyelo his trial has commenced and that the International Crimes Division of the High Court is ready to try him.
The other judges are Duncan Gaswaga and Michael Elubu.
The charges against Kwoyelo stem from atrocities committed while he was commanding LRA operations in Kilak Hill leading to attacks on Abera and Pagak villages and Pabbo Internally Displaced Persons’ camp in Amuru district between 1993 and 2005.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He spent several years in Luzira Maximum Prison for 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda.
Justice Jane Kiggundu said the main trial will commence with swearing in of assessors, opening statements and contextual issues related to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion on Tuesday.
Additional reporting by Uganda Radio Network [URN]