Survivors of the February 2004 massacre at Barlonyo in Lira district want to witness the trial of Col. Thomas Kwoyelo, the former Lordâ€™s Resistance Army brigade commander. The trial is due to start on July 11th at the War Crimes Division of the High Court in Gulu. Kwoyelo faces 12 counts of willful killing, abductions and torture.
On February 21, 2004, LRA rebels attacked Barlonyo internally displaced peoples’ camp killing at least 300 people and injuring dozens others.
Now the survivors have appealed to government to consider taking them to witness the court proceedings against Kwoyelo. The trial is due to start on July 11th at the War Crimes Division of the High Court in Gulu. Kwoyelo faces 12 counts of willful killing, abductions and torture.
The former senior commander of the LRA was captured on February 3, 2009 by the joint forces during the “Lightening Thunder” operation against the LRA in Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Barlonyo village LC1 chairperson, Moses Ogwang says the government should make them part of the many congregations to witness the first trial against a senior LRA figure for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ogwang notes that allowing them to witness the trial would make them feel happy that the International Criminal Court is doing something to help the war victims.
Joseph Otim Odyek, a victim whose two kids were murdered in the attack, says he wants to personally witness the court proceedings.
Merry Apio, a mother five whose husband died in the attack on Barlonyo camp, prays for a successful trial of Kwoyelo, which she hopes, will make her forget about the incident.
Joyce Freda Apio, the project coordinator Uganda Coalition on the International Criminal Court (UCICC), last month said the court prosecutor has been preparing and identifying witnesses
Apio said Col Kwoyelo has also been given a defense lawyer identified as Caleb Alaka.
The war crimes court was established as part of government’s efforts to implement the resolutions of the Juba peace talks between the rebels and the government team.
The court is expected to try suspects who committed lesser crimes leaving the key suspects: Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, Vincent Otii and Dominic Ongwen to face the International Criminal Court.