Lawyers abandon Kwoyelo in court

Former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo in Ugandan court

Former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo in Ugandan court

Lawyers who were supposed to represent former Lord’s Resistance Army commander Thomas Kwoyelo have abandoned him in court.

Kweyelo’s lawyers Caleb Alaka and Nicholas Opiyo failed to show up in Gulu High Court where his pre-trial is underway as expected.

The two lawyers also reportedly failed to serve court with formal communication as to why they didn’t show up in court.

This prompted Kwoyelo to hire another lawyer Charles Dalton Opwonya. However, government assigned him a second lawyer Geoffrey Anyuru.

The trial of Kwoyelo, a former LRA mid-level commander charged with crimes under Uganda’s Geneva Conventions Act and Penal Code Act, will be a test of the country’s willingness and ability to prosecute.

Uganda has been under an ICC investigation since July 2014 for alleged crimes related to the LRA in Northern Uganda.

However, since then it has also moved forward in establishing an International Crimes Division (ICD) within the High Court of Uganda, which is set to try Kwoyelo as its first case.

The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has lined up 113 witnesses to pin Kwoyelo during his trial.

Kwoyelo faces 12 charges relating to crimes committed during a war that ravaged northern Uganda for over two decades.

Prosecution alleges that as one of the middle level commanders in the LRA, Kwoyelo planned, commanded and executed attacks committed against civilian populations in Northern Uganda.

The listed offenses include wilful killing, extensive destruction of property, abduction murder, kidnap and robbery which he partook prior to his capture in December 2008.v

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