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15.11.18 – Bail application

SUMMARY OF HEARINGS

On 15th November 2018, the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda (ICD), sitting at Gulu, convened for the second time to hear the bail application filed by the defence team in the Kwoyelo case. The hearing resulted in another adjournment.

Under Ugandan law, it is a constitutional right for an Accused to apply for bail, although the grant of bail is not automatic and the Accused must satisfy specific conditions.

Before the hearing, a status conference was held by the Court and all counsels in the matter. The victims Counsel expressed concern that it was essential for them to meet and consult with the Victims pursuant to the orders made in the Ruling on Victim Participation (14th November 2018) with regard to their views on whether the bail should be granted to the Accused. The Prosecution requested more time to verify the sureties that the Defence had only just provided to them. The Defence team therefore sought more time and the postponement of the application hearing.

The prosecution submitted that the Defence appeared unready to proceed with the application and commented that it was unfair considering how much resources had been put in to be present for the hearing. It was further argued that it was not the first time that the Defence was unprepared to prosecute the application. The Prosecution therefore requested that the Court dismiss the application as the Applicant still has opportunity at any other time during the course of the trial, to apply for bail. In the alternative, the Prosecution requested that if the adjournment were to be granted, the Defence should be cautioned and any adjournment granted should be the last.

The Victims Counsel supported the adjournment in light of the victims’ best interest while requesting strict timelines to be set and adhered to by all the parties. In response to the Prosecution’s statements, the Defence reiterated being ready to proceed with the trial as the sureties were also present in Court.

The Court sought the views of the parties for a convenient date when the adjourned hearing should take place. Counsel Dalton Opwonya made reference to the 18th of January 2019 and communicated the Accused’s preference for the bail application to be heard in Gulu, as well as to be detained at Gulu prison.

In considering all the submissions made, the Court took due consideration of the Victims’ right to participate in the trial with specific orders to the Registrar to facilitate Victims Counsel consultations with the victims with regard to Kwoyelo’s bail application. The hearing was adjourned to the 18th of January 2019 at the ICD in Kampala. The accused was further remanded into custody until then.

It is noteworthy that Status Conferences as provided for under Rule 31(4) of the rules of the ICD seem to be a major tool for the court in determining the conduct of the trial, particularly, inexpediting it. It also noteworthy that the Judge did not make reference to the Applicant’s request for the bail application to be heard in Gulu as opposed to Kampala as well as the request to be detained in Gulu Prison. It is to be assumed that the non-variation in the order as to remand means that the Accused will further remand to Luzira Maximum Security Prison.

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