This morning JRP’s Documentation and Communications teams attended a session of the International Crimes Division (ICD) in Gulu pertaining to the trial of ex-LRA commander Col. Thomas Kwoyelo.
As a brief backgrounder, the trial opened on July 11th in Gulu (see a JRP overview of this here), and on August 5th was referred to the Constitutional Court in Kampala for a decision pertaining to issues raised by Kwoyelo’s lawyers of alleged unequal treatment and denial of amnesty, among others. On Sept. 22nd, the Court ruled that Kwoyelo was eligible for amnesty and to deny him would be unconstitutional. The matter was referred back to the ICD for presumed termination of the trial and Kwoyelo’s release. After an appeal was made by a State team to stay the execution of this order (i.e. to delay releasing him) citing a threat to national security and alleged communication with LRA financiers, on Nov. 10th, the Court of Appeal declined that request and upheld the Constitutional Court ruling. Kwoyelo’s release was slated for Nov. 11th in Gulu.
That brings us to today. It was widely rumored that Kwoyelo would be released, and many of his family members traveled long distances to receive him. However, a panel of three ICD judges confused many in attendance when they stated their compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling and ceased the trial, yet referred matters of his release to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Amnesty Commission. It appears as though his release will not be carried out until his amnesty is processed, and he was taken back to presumably Gulu prison by armed prison wardens shortly after the reading.
For photos from the day’s session, click here.
For a raw audio recording of Justice Akii-Kiiza, click here.
For a video with JRP’s Lino Owor Ogora commenting on the decision to local media, click here or watch below.
JRP will continue to monitor events pertaining to this case as they unfold. Stay tuned for the latest updates. A video interview with Kwoyelo’s mother after the ruling and other clips from the day will be uploaded in the coming days.