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I Survived Execution- Ex-LRA Commander Tells ICD Court

Kwoyelo in court

By Tolit Ivan

Thomas Kwoyelo, the former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Commander, on Monday broke down in tears while narrating how Joseph Kony, the elusive LRA Commander, nearly killed him after he was framed for planning to defect to the government of Uganda.

Kwoyelo told his defence trial before the International Crimes Division of the High Court sitting at Gulu High Court in Gulu city that he was arrested on Kony’s orders, tied to a pillar in a hut for two days and his face covered with a black cloth.

Kwoyelo is facing 78 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed between 1992 and 2005 in Kilak County, then Gulu District now in Amuru District.

According to Kwoyelo, he alongside LRA Deputy leader Vincent Otti, was arrested by fellow combatants, on Kony’s orders following allegations that they were plotting to surrender to the government in 2008.

During the time, the government was engaged in peace talks with the LRA to end the war.   Following the arrest, Kony visited a hut where Kwoyelo was bound and called him three times after which he told him to get out.

According Kwoyelo, he survived being executed after Kony, through the advice of his two spirits “Mama Selini” which is responsible for healing the sick and “Who are You”, the Director of Intelligence, cleared him of any wrong doings.

Tearful Kwoyelo told court that the spirits reportedly revealed to Kony that he (Kwoyelo) was being framed by top commanders so that he is killed after they overheard that Kony had wanted to promote him to Director Medical Services.

Kwoyelo has been in custody at Luzira Maximum Prison since 2009 after being captured by the Ugandan Army in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March same year. He is the first among the top LRA commanders to face a domestic court on crimes related to sexual violence, murder, kidnap, robbery and pillaging.

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