Former LRA Leader, Kwoyelo Asks Court For Special Diet

Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) warlord Thomas Kwoyelo who is facing 93 charges stemming from rebel atrocities committed in northern Uganda has petitioned the High court for a special diet.

Kwoyelo, who has been on remand for over 15 years, cited ulcers as the reason for his request. He stated that while the court previously provided him with a prescribed diet, he has not received the necessary diet following the closure of his session case, resulting in a deterioration of his condition.

Kwoyelo’s lawyer, Geoffrey Anyuru, conveyed this request before the international crimes division registrar, Beatrice Atingu.

The matter was raised during a recent court session, where it was being ascertained whether skeleton submissions had been made regarding whether Kwoyelo should face a case or be acquitted following the conclusion of the prosecution’s case with 53 witnesses. 

The state attorney, Richard Birivumbuka, along with the victim’s counsel, expressed that they had not yet made their submissions and requested an adjournment for more time. 

In response, registrar Atingu adjourned the case to September 18, with the session scheduled to take place in Gulu, as directed by justice Michael Elubu, the head of the trial panel. Kwoyelo’s trial is presided over by justices Stephen Mubiru and Duncan Gaswagga, with justice Dr Andrew Bashaija, the head of the international crimes division, serving as an alternate judge. 

Prosecution alleges that Kwoyelo, hailing from the present-day Amuru district in northern Uganda, became involved with the LRA, received military training, and led attacks on civilians over various years.

The incidents involved the use of weapons like axes, clubs, and guns, resulting in the deaths of victims who were taken hostage.

Kwoyelo, who has expressed a desire for a speedy trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands, appeared in court accompanied by armed prison officers. Unlike other inmates who travel by bus, Kwoyelo was transported in a special vehicle back to Luzira prison.

In July 2023, the principal judge, Dr Flavian Zeija, highlighted that the judiciary is considering allocating funds specifically for Kwoyelo’s trial due to numerous delays caused by funding issues. 

He also noted that the trial has faced challenges stemming from the suspect’s contestation of the proceedings, which had reached the Supreme court before returning to the High court.

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