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Thomas Kwoyelo: Top commanders of LRA are soldiers of former President Tito Okello Lutwa

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Thomas Kwoyelo, the former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has revealed that the top commanders of the rebel group are soldiers of former President Tito Okello, whom President Yoweri Museveni ousted.

Kwoyelo said before the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court circuit sitting in Gulu.

He told court that the former soldiers were in charge of training abductees and planning attacks. The abducted children did so because they would not consider escaping or recall directions to return home.

Kwoyelo was abducted by the LRA on his way to school in 1987, remained in captivity, and later became a colonel.

Kwoyelo is facing charges of murder, aggravated robbery, extensive destruction of property, causing serious injury to body or health, and inhumane treatment, rape, and torture, among others, that he is alleged to have committed against the civilian population of northern Uganda, southern Sudan, and the northeastern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The worst attack of the paramilitary group that was under the leadership of Joseph Kony occurred in Haute-Hele Province (DRC) in December 2008, the so-called Christmas massacre, where over 200 people were killed and over 800 houses razed down.

The rebels split up into groups to attack the villages of Faradje, Batande, Duru, Bangadi, and Burgi. They waited until people had gathered for Christmas festivities, then surrounded and killed them with axes, machetes, and clubs.

In March 2009, Kwoyelo was injured during hostilities between the Ugandan army and the LRA in the DRC and brought into Uganda for medical treatment and subsequently into custody.

His trial, however, commenced in July 2011. Before ICD, a division of Uganda’s High Court Constitutional Court resolved that the suspect’s trial should stop as it found grounds for the failure by the DPP and the Amnesty Commission to act on Kwoyelo’s application. In 2015, the Supreme Court decided that Kwoyelo’s trial should resume.

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