KAMPALA – Lawyers representing victims of former Lord’s Resistance Army rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo have threatened to pull out of the case if they are paid by the International Crimes Division [ICD] of Uganda.
Ms Jane Magdalene Amooti and Mr Henry Komakech Kilama, while appearing before the ICD that sat in Gulu High Court on Monday, said they cannot proceed with the case until they are facilitated.
“My lords, to have a meaningful trial, all the arms of the court must be uniformly facilitated; this includes the judges, [prosecution, defence and victims lawyers. Unfortunately, the victim lawyers haven’t been paid since 2016, we have been promised but in vain,” Mr Kilama told a court session presided over by justices Jane Persis Kigundu, Duncan Gaswaga and Michael Elubu.
“If the honourable court feels they should proceed with this case without our payment, then we demand that the court rules out the victim’s participation, discharge the victim counsel or allow us to step down. We demand that this court be adjourned to enable the justices’ look into our concerns,” Mr Kilama said.
Ms Amooti and Mr Kilama were appointed by ICD to represent victims of Kwoyelo’s alleged crimes committed between 1993 and 2005.
But Mr Kilama said ICD has since not paid him more than Shs40 million in legal fees.
Kwoyelo’s Defence lawyers led by Mr Caleb Alaka agreed with Kilama that the case cannot go on if one arm of the court is not being fairly treated.
“We are in a total dilemma, my lord. on one side, our client is decrying the slow pace of his trial, on the other hand, the victim counsel is raising a legitimate concern on logistical facilitation that has impact on fair trial in this case,”
“We cannot proceed without the victim lawyers because their participation is important. We really pray that when the trial starts, we don’t want this hiccups emanating from logistical concerns,” he added.
Justice Kiggundu adjourned the case to Tuesday to allow court time to address the lawyers’ concerns.