101 year old Kwoyela’ mother trekks 73kms to attend son’s trial in Gulu

Thomas Kwoyelo’s mother, Roseline Oyello, 101, trekked 73 kilometers to attend her son’s trial at Gulu High Court in Gulu City on Wednesday. 

Dressed in a white gown dress and open black shoes, Oyella told URN upon arrival at the precincts of Gulu High Court that she embarked on her journey on Monday 13th June to witness her son`s court proceedings in person. 

Accompanied by her grandson, John Opototap, 22, Oyella set off from her home village in Ceri Village in Pogo Sub County and walked through Pabbo Town Council in Amuru district, which is 29kilometers apart. 

She explains that they spent Monday night at a well-wisher’s home and set off for Gulu City on Tuesday morning through the Nimule-Gulu Highway and arrived at Lacor Trading Centre in Bardege-Layibi division in Gulu City in the evening where they spent the night at another well-wisher’s home.   

They set off from Lacor Trading Centre around 9:00 am and reached the Gulu High Court premises at 11:45 am. 

Lacor Trading Centre is about four and a half kilometers away. Oyella who looked pale, and weak with swollen legs, said that Opototap joined her a week ago in her home village in preparation for the journey.

Opototap is living with his mother`s family in Oyuku Village in Porogali Sub County in Pader, which is more than 130 kilometers from Ceri Village. 

Oyella told URN that she decided to walk due to the lack of transport yet she feels the pain of her son facing court coupled with the urge to personally see him defend himself.

Public transport between Gulu City and Ceri Village where Oyella hails costs not less than Sh 80,000. 

Opototap says that he learned of his father`s court proceeding from the media and chose to attend because of his love for him. 

He spent Sh40,000 on transport from Pader to Amuru.

He decries his father`s court proceedings which he says have been long overdue and stigmatization by the public.     

Otopotap wants support to pursue further education since he dropped out in 2016 after sitting for his Primary Leaving Examination (PLE) where he obtained 21 aggregates.  

Oyella says that they are still uncertain how they will return to their homes after the court proceedings since they neither have money for transport, feeding, or accommodation.  

Prison warders had earlier blocked the duo from accessing the court premises and asked them to follow the televised proceedings in the annexed courtroom, however, they were eventually allowed into the courtroom by the registrar.  

The International Crimes Division (ICD) is trying former Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo alias Latoni for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 Kwoyelo is facing 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed in Pabbo in Amuru District between 1995 and 2005.   

His trial commenced in 2018 but took a break for nearly two years following the outbreak of COVID-19 before resuming in March this year in Kampala. 

Since Monday, Kwoyelo has appeared before the ICD Judges Michael Elubu, Duncan Gaswaga, and Stephen Mubiru for his trial hearing at the Gulu High Court in Gulu City.

The hearing is expected to take two weeks and a total of 15 prosecution witnesses are expected to appear for cross-examination.

 Kwoyelo, 52, was captured in 2008, and first appeared before the ICD in 2011, making him the first LRA rebel commander to face trial in the country.  He has been in detention at Luzira Maximum Prison since 2009.  

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