By Hillary Nsambu
The Supreme Court will on a date to be announced in future rule whether former rebel commander Col. Thomas Kwoyelo deserves to be granted amnesty or be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity before Uganda’s War Crimes Court.
This followed an appeal in which the Attorney General sought to overturn a judgment in which the Constitutional Court ruled that Col Kwoyelo deserved to be pardoned like the other rebel combatants captured or surrendered before him.
Senior Principal State Attorneys Patricia Mutesi, representing the Attorney General and Joan Kagezi, appearing for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) argued that the Constitutional Court should not have exonerated Kwoyelo from being prosecuted for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity when he was still one of the LRA commanders.
However, Caleb Alaka, Nicolas Opio and John Francis Onyango, the lawyers who represented Kwoyelo, while supporting the Constitutional Court’s judgment, submitting one of the other, asked the court to dismiss the state’s appeal.
The lawyers submitted that the continued detention of Kwoyelo infringed the Constitution when he was captured while going to report himself to the authority.
They further submitted that he was only forced into rebel activities after having been captured in 1987 when on his way to Pabo Primary School and was taken to join the LRA against his will.
The lawyers further argued the DPP faulted when he refused to sanction Kwoyelo’s application for pardon when many other rebel commanders with higher ranks had been pardoned with 20,000 rebels before him while 29 others were granted amnesty after him.
Denying Kwoyelo pardon when he applied for it, is discriminatory and violates his rights under the law.
Justices Bart Katureebe, Jotham Tumwesigye, Dr Esther Kisaakye-Kitimbo, John Wilson Tsekooko, Benjamin Odoki, Galdino Magellan Okello and Christine Nakaseeta Kitumba presided over the Court.