Uganda: Kwoyelo Trial Resumes Amidst Protests From Lawyers

Kampala, Uganda — The International Crimes Division of the High Court sitting in Gulu resumed the trial of former rebel Lord's Resistance Army-LRA commander, Thomas Kwoyelo on Monday afternoon amidst protests from his lawyers.

The lawyers protested a report in the alleged assault on their client by unidentified female Prison guard at Gulu Mini Maximum Prison in March this year. The report submitted to Court, says Prison authorities couldn't find any evidence into the allegations.

In March, Thomas Kwoyelo alleged that a Prison guard extensively assaulted and insulted him as he prepared to report to Court. "This morning when I was wearing my shoes to come to court I was assaulted by a female prison officer who pushed and slapped me" Kwoyelo told Court in March.

The trial Judge Jane Persis Kiggundu directed prosecution to investigate the allegation, saying it is regrettable and the culprit must be found. She urged prosecution and defense lawyers to investigate and report back to Court.

Charles Kaamuli, a prosecutor in the trial said he would report the allegations to the Commissioner General of Uganda Prison Services for investigations and prosecution, which led to the report that was tabled in court on Monday. Kwoyelo Defense Lawyer, Charles Dalton Opwonya and Geoffrey Borris Anyuru demanded fresh investigations, saying they are dissatisfied with the outcomes of the investigations. They said Prosecution abdicated its duties by allowing the Commissioner of Uganda Prisons Service to handle the investigations single handedly.

Opwonya said they would like the fresh investigations into the allegation to be handled by a neutral agent such as the Police, Special Investigation Unit of the Army or Uganda Human rights Commission.

According to Opwonya, the report is offensive to their client in the way it has been structured with many false claims. Geoffrey Boris Anyuru, another lawyer representing Kwoyelo said the report stated that the complainant was just frustrated and stressed, therefore next time he shall be handled with extra care.

The Principal State Attorney Williams Byansi said they have no objection with the demands for fresh investigations if Kwoyelo and the defense feel dissatisfied with the report. Byansi asked Court to safeguard the trial from being affected by the fresh demands for investigations.

Justice Michael Elubu said Court will rule on the new demands later today. Kwoyelo faces up to 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the conflict led by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. He has since pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

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