Former LRA Col. Thomas Kwoyelo want to be transfer to face ICC trial
International Crimes Division currently trying Thomas Kwoyelo is in dilemma with financial crisis, ICD judges failed to deliver justice because the institution lacks money. Defense Counsel argues.
GULU-UGANDA: Former commander of the Lord`s Resistance Army-LRA rebel group, Thomas Kwoyelo has asked the International Crime Division-ICD to refer for trial at the Hague Based International Criminal Court-ICC.
Kwoyelo told a panel of four judges of the ICD from Gulu High Court on Monday that the court lacks good will to dispose his case and has constantly made adjournments.
He told court that he was battered and manhandled by a prison wardress from Gulu main Government Prisons.
‘’Just as I was putting on my shoes, a wardress in the rank of Assistant Superintendent of Prisons-ASP assaulted me yet I was very loyal and disciplined.’’ Kwoyelo told the judges.
He pointed that the court should refer his trial to the ICC on grounds that even the terrorism case of 2010 involving Al-shabab suicide bombers was disposed just like former presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye treason case of 2011.
Similarly he noted that his case is still pending yet the one which involved King Mumbere of Kasese in 2017. The former LRA commander says Ugandan government does not have political will to handle LRA cases.
Kwoyelo said he and his defense teams are ready to travel to Netherlands and to face just and fair trial compared to the Ugandan ICD system.
He also attacked the Uganda judicial system of denying his bail applications and blocking his visitors including relatives and friends from accessing him in the detention cells.
An insider at Kwoyelo`s detention facility at Luzira maximum Prison told Oyeng Yeng that the suspect has never been given right to conjugal since he was remanded in 2008.
Kwoyelo`s defense team has questioned why Dominic Ongwen also being tried for crimes he committed while commander of the LRA Sinia Brigade at the Hague based ICC is now fathering a ‘’baby boy from his detention cell.’’ They say obviously Ongwen has been given conjugal rights.
The Assistant Director of Public Prosecution, Charles Richard Kamuli although dismissed Kwoyelo`s demand for referral to ICC arguing that government has the capacity to handle the case.
‘’ I want to make a few remarks following the accused persons claims of delayed trial. This case has been a special interest. The accused has the right to get amnesty but the matter was referred to the constitutional court, the ruling was made but the state was not satisfied with the ruling.’’ Kamuli argued.
Kamuli said they have been ready to handle the case since 2010 but the matter was already before the constitutional court.
Prosecution says they have six witnesses ready to be presented in court. ‘’we have expert witnesses hare in Gulu. If the accused want the case be referred to ICC, he should seek counsel from his defense teams.’’
The case cannot be transferred but the processes are to be followed. The Assistant DPP stated.
Kwoyelo`s lead defense lawyer, Charles Dalton Opwonya equally rejected his client`s request that the case be dropped from ICD but referred to ICC noting that ICD has been set to preside over high profile cases based on LRA Juba Peace Talks of 2006.
Opwonya although argues that the government of Uganda lack finance to handle cases before the ICD however it is mandated.
‘’we have witnessed Kwoyelo trial begin adjourned many time, even the defense counsel team are facing difficulties financially but we need a speedy trial.’’ He argued.
The counsel for witness, Henry Komakech Kilama says he also cannot continue presenting victims due to lack of financial support from government.
‘’my lord, I am ready to step down now, for two years we have been travelling to and fro Kampala attending this case but our per diem has never been paid.’’ Kilama told court.
Kilama said the counsel for victims` team requires support and finance to arrange private consultation and retreat and also need for more lawyers.
The lead defense lawyer, Opwonya explained that victims are crucial in the court procession.
Justice Duncan Gaswaga says the court regrets the incidence of the assault against Kwoyelo and ruled that the matter should be investigated and reported before court.
‘’I rule that the warden who assaulted Kwoyelo must be brought to book, if Kwoyelo can identify the lady then such errant person should be penalized.’’ Justice Gaswaga ruled.
Justice Precious Jean Kiggundu in her ruling said that the victims` lawyer financial demands should be considered since court cannot do without victims` lawyer.
However political analyst, Mrs. Malyam Abe says Kwoyelo`s trial is politically driven and aims at tribal wars. She compared it to that of Aborrigin Luo of Australia and Cheekrio American red Indians who were in alienated
She says this is the same case in Kwoyelo`s (an Acholi of Northern Uganda) whom the world equally wants them to go extinct.
‘’the way Ugandan dictator Museveni handle us is like the Red Indians who were eliminated from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.’’ She explained.