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Thomas Kwoyelo starts defending himself in court after 14 years

17 April 2024, 5:21 pm

By Emmy Daniel Ojara

Gulu City

Former Lord’s Resistance Army commander Thomas Kwoyelo in court. (Photo from archives)

Former Lord`s Resistance Army (LRA) fighter Thomas Kwoyelo has started defending himself for charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda.

Kwoyelo, 49, has been in detention since 2009 following his arrest and is facing 78 counts before the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court.

On Tuesday, clad in a tie and black court, Kwoyelo made the first statement to defend himself before the panel of four judges.

He took the court through his family background, growth, studies, and eventual abduction by the LRA in 1988 on a fateful evening while on his way from school to home.

Kwoyelo told the court that he was 13 years old at that time, and a pupil of Pabbo Sisters Primary School in Pabbo Sub County, then in Gulu district.

He also told the court that following his abduction they were taken through a spiritual process which involved the smearing of their bodies with shea butter and whitish sand, and kept in house for days to make them holy and get divine protection.

 Kwoyelo also disregarded prosecution witness testimonies that they grew up, spent leisure together, and danced together, noting that those were abject lies.


Kwoyelo’s lawyers say 15 defense witnesses have been lined up for the proceeding but Caleb Alaka told the court on Tuesday that none of them is following the proceedings.

The court has been adjourned to Wednesday. The presiding judges included Andrew Bashaija, Stephen Mubiru, Michael Elubu, and Duncan Gaswaga.