KAMPALA. Mr Thomas Kwoyelo alias Latoni, former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander was yesterday charged afresh with 92 counts of alleged killing of civilians during the two-decade insurgency in northern region.
The amended charges comprise crimes against humanity, violation of article 3 of the Common Geneva Conventions under the customary international laws and serious offences under the Penal Code Act.
The amended charges were read out to Kwoyelo before the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala. The sitting was presided over by Justice Susan Okalany.
The new charges include murder, hostage-taking contrary to article 3 (1) of the Common Geneva Conventions, kidnap with intent to murder, pillaging, aggravated robbery, cruel treatment, violation of personal dignity, torture and rape, among others.
On the amended charge sheet, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) states that he will adduce evidence at the trial to prove these charges against Kwoyelo.
The DPP states that he will prove Kwoyelo underwent basic military training that saw him quickly rise through the LRA ranks to become a colonel, a rank he held at the time of arrest.
Kwoyelo was born in Acut Cama Ceri Village, Pabbo Sub-county in Kilak in the present Amuru District.
He is alleged to have committed the crimes between 1992 and 2005 when he was a military commander in the LRA and held several positions including commander of operations, director of military intelligence and being in charge of the LRA sick bays.
It’s alleged that Kwoyelo while in Kilak carried out widespread killings of civilians, abductions and destruction of property.
“On the 5/9/1994 or there about, the accused (Kwoyelo) commanded an armed attack in Abera village, Parubanga Parish, Pabbo Sub-county in Kilak. Along with his forces he raided several civilian homes,” the indictment reads in part.
“In the course of the raid, the accused (Kwoyelo) and his forces tortured, maimed and abducted a number of civilians including David Akena, Patrick Ochen, Menya Odong, John Ouma, Ojok Patrick, Okot Charles, Simon Ogena and others,” the amended charge sheet further reads.
On the charge sheet, the DPP states that at the commencement of the trial, he will adduce evidence to prove the charges against Kwoyelo. He says the pieces of evidence include postmortem reports, police reports and other documents, photographs, correspondences, written statements of witnesses, and newspaper extracts.
“The prosecution shall aver that there is sufficient evidence against the accused (Kwoyelo) and shall pray that the honorable court finds him guilty as charged,” the DPP says in the indictment.
By the time of filing this story yesterday afternoon, the voluminous charges were still being read out to Kwoyelo and he had not entered plea against any of the counts.
Previously, Mr Kwoyelo had been facing 53 counts of murder, kidnap with intent to kill, aggravated robbery and destruction of property during the Joseph Kony-led rebellion against the government.
Kwoyelo’s pre-trial yesterday followed the judgment of the Supreme Court two years ago in which it held that the former LRA rebel should be tried before the International Crimes Division. The Supreme Court dismissed Kwoyelo’s petition in which he had alleged that the DPP had discriminated against him and denied him presidential amnesty when he slapped 53 criminal charges against him.
Earlier, the lower Constitutional Court had concurred with Kwoyelo that the DPP was discriminative in his actions when he refused to grant him amnesty which had been extended to other LRA commanders.
The Constitutional Court ordered for his release but he was re-arrested and returned to Luzira Prison to-date.
Kwoyelo was one of the commanders of Joseph Kony’s LRA. He was captured by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in Garamba National Park in Democratic Republic of Congo in 2005. Subsequently, he was brought back to Uganda and detained at Luzira Upper Prison.
While at Luzira on January 12, 2010, Kwoyelo made a declaration before the officer in charge of the prison, renouncing rebellion and seeking amnesty.
This declaration was submitted to the Amnesty Commission. On March 19, 2010, the Commission forwarded the declaration to the DPP for consideration for amnesty. However the DPP did not respond to Kwoyelo’s application and instead, drafted criminal charges against him for his role in the LRA atrocities.