The state on Tuesday presented two more witnesses in the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA Commander Thomas Kwoyelo, who is accused of 93 charges related to crimes against humanity.
Kwoyelo faces charges related to rape, kidnapping, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, and other inhumane acts such as hostage-taking and waging attacks on internally displaced camps in Northern Uganda and burning them down around 1987, 1993, 1996, 2003, and 2004.
The state alleges that in order to further the plans of the LRA, Kwoyelo willfully commanded systematic attacks on civilians who were taking no part in the armed rebellion and subjected them to hostilities simply because they were believed to be supporting the government of Uganda.
However, Kwoyelo, whose trial had been stalled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was arraigned on Wednesday before a panel of three judges of the International Crimes Division of the High Court in Kampala.
The Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Richard Charles Kamuli, presented the state witnesses to the court, asking the court to protect their identities, a request that was granted by the court.
The witness, a retired police officer aged 65, was a detective in charge of general crimes.
He told the court that the then-District CID officer informed him that Pagak Camp for the Internally Displaced People had been attacked a day before. The officer said that when they reached the camp, they found 39 civilians killed, 544 houses burned, foodstuffs looted, and civilians abducted and forced to carry the loot.
The court has also heard that as they were going back for the post mortem exercise, they got fresh information on May 20, 2004 that Lokodi camp had also been attacked and 25 civilians killed.
The witnesses added that they exhumed the bodies and carried out post-mortem reports, and they were able to name and identify the victims with the help of the leaders and some other people in the camp.
Another witness was an officer attached to the Public Relations Department of the Police.
He told the court that he took photographs of the victims in hospitals where they had been taken for treatment, and some had injuries on their body parts.
He told the court that he also took photos of the burnt houses in the camps and the exhumation of bodies for post-mortem.
The court was adjourned to Thursday, when the officer would complete his testimony.
In the previous testimonies, the court heard that Kwoyelo, a native of the present-day Amuru district in Northern Uganda, enlisted in the LRA group and underwent military training to rise through the ranks before establishing his base at Kilak Hills, from where he would command attacks on civilians.
The prosecution claims that in these incidents, Kwoyelo used axes, cabs, and guns to attack and kidnap residents from his birthplace who were collecting firewood and attending rituals, only to be discovered dead the next day with their hands tied behind their backs.
Kweyelo was captured in the forests of the Central African Republic in 2008 by the Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF, and since then he has been on remand at Luzira Maximum prison.
He has since demanded to be taken to the International Criminal Court for a speedy trial.