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LRA Commander Thomas Kwoyelo’s Bail Ruling Flops

The much anticipated ruling on the bail application of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Thomas Kwoyelo has this morning flopped.

This happened at the Gulu High Court where Kwoyelo is facing 93 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity resulting from his role as a top LRA commander during the war in northern Uganda.

On reading the adjournment, lady justice Jane Kigundu admitted that court has been too busy to go through the bail application presented by Kwoyelo’s lawyers.

The ruling on the bail application of former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo has been posted to 26th March 2019.

Background

It should be noted that Kwoyelo has been in detention since the Ugandan army captured him in 2008, and his trial has progressed at a slow pace. Kwoyelo first appeared before the ICD in 2011.

The start of his trial was delayed due preliminary objections raised by his defense lawyers, who argued that he was entitled to amnesty under Uganda’s amnesty law, which was valid at the time of his capture. This matter was not settled until 2015, when Uganda’s Supreme Court ruled that Kwoyelo’s trial was constitutional and did not breach Uganda’s amnesty law.

More delays arose as a result of the ICD’s failure to confirm charges against him despite numerous pre-trial hearings convened for that purpose. In 2016, three pre-trial hearings were held in April, August, and September, while in 2017, four pre-trial hearings were held in January, February, March, and July.

On August 30, 2018, the ICD finally confirmed the 93 charges against him, thereby paving the way for the main trial to open on September 24, 2018.

Speaking before a packed audience prior to the commencement of trial proceedings, Justices Jane Kigundu, Dacan Gaswaga, and Michael Elubu—the three judges who will preside over the trial—stressed the need for a speedy and expeditious trial, as they promised to uphold the rights of victims to participate in the process.

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