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"They said it was dangerous. I'll never understand, in a million years, how my daughter can be a danger. They're guardians of peace and justice. Well, how is letting me see her again a threat to peace and justice? Who is the monster? Is it me? Is it her? I don't think so."
―Jonava Billane, in her appearance on the talk show Essence[src]

After a destructive groundquake destroyed the planet Ord Thoden's capital city of Domitree in 23 BBY, a crew of Jedi rescue workers found an infant Force-sensitive girl named Ludi Billane alive in the wreckage and took her to Coruscant for training. When the girl's mother, Jonava Billane, was discovered alive a month later, a highly-publicized custody case began as Billane attempted to get her daughter back from the Jedi Order. Backed by the Jedi watchdog group known as the People's Inquest, Billane's efforts generated a large amount of media attention and public sympathy, although her formal petition for her daughter's return was rejected by the Jedi Council, who said it was too dangerous to let her go after her mind had been opened to the Force. After a tearful appearance on the popular Eriadu talk show Essence attracted billions of viewers, Billane's case caused even more popular furor, including constant protests by the People's Inquest and even a brief, aborted storming of the Jedi Temple by local students. However, the Jedi Council stayed silent, and in 22 BBY "Baby Ludi"—whom the Jedi had renamed Aris-Del Wari—was moved to a Jedi Training Center on Kamparas. Jonava Billane and People's Inquest leader Thrynka Padaunete were busy working on a holofeature on the "Baby Ludi" story at the time, and had no response.


In 23 BBY, a groundquake devastated the city of Domitree, the capital[1] of the Outer Rim[2] world of Ord Thoden. When combing the ruins, a team of Jedi rescue workers found a infant girl alive in the wreckage of Domitree, and sensed within the child Force potential. With no one around to identify her and her parents missing and presumed dead, the Jedi took her into custody, named her Aris-Del Wari and began the early stages of training her as a Jedi. However, although the Jedi did not know it at the time, the child's mother—Jonava Billane—was in fact alive, and was discovered one month later convalescing in a town on the outskirts of Domitree. Billane learned that her daughter, originally named Ludi Billane, had been taken by the Jedi, and determined to regain custody of the girl, spent what meager funds she had to travel from Ord Thoden to Coruscant and begin a campaign to get her daughter back.[1]

The case[]

"We have opened the child's mind to the larger world of the Force. The child is awakened, and to return it to the birth-parents at this stage would be far too dangerous. It is in everyone's best interests and safety for the child to remain in Jedi custody."
―Coleman Trebor[src]

Jonava Billane holding a holo of her daughter Ludi.

With absolutely zero precedent for a custody case of this nature, the dispute between Billane and the Jedi Order—which earned a large amount of media coverage and was popularly termed the "Baby Ludi" case—proved particularly vexing to the Republic Judiciary. Backed by the independent grassroots Jedi watch-group known as the People's Inquest, Billane and her pleas received a popular following, and eventually Senator Boganni Hrul, who represented Ord Thoden in the Galactic Senate, delivered a formal petition to the Jedi Council for the return of "Baby Ludi" to her mother. Three weeks later, the Council took an uncharacteristic step of addressing the matter publicly. Through a representative, Jedi Master Coleman Trebor, the Jedi Council refused to return Ludi to her mother, saying that the child had already had her mind opened to the Force and that returning her to Jonava Billane would be dangerous for all involved. The statement met with immediate response from Billane, who held a press conference on the steps of the Jedi Temple and vowed to continue her fight.[1]

Over the coming months, the matter continued to receive large amounts of popular attention. Billane's cause was supported by a Mothers United March on the planet Alsakan and a mediathon in the Minos Cluster that featured a number of celebrity appearances.[3] On top of that, the holofilm studio Kailio Entertainments procured a deal estimated to be worth over one million credits to make a full-length picture on the "Baby Ludi" story, with H'drachi director Ch'been attached to the project and Kailio contract star Harissa Shoti rumored to portray Billane.[4] Two months after the Council refused her petition,[3] Billane was invited to appear on the popular Eriadu talk show Essence, for an hour-long feature that bumped a scheduled appearance by[5] Senate Vice Chair[6] Mas Amedda. Over 25 billion viewers watched the episode, where Billane broke down into tears four times while breathlessly pleading for her daughter's return. The program also featured an appearance by People's Inquest leader Thrynka Padaunete, who had taken on a role as Billane's appearance manager—the People's Inquest,[3] who had members camped outside the Jedi Temple for months,[7] took a portion of the proceeds from sales of the program.[3]

The uproar around the case eventually led to vigorous protest activity by local students. After the Jedi Council refused to return "Baby Ludi," student activists at the University of Coruscant overloaded the school's datanet hubs with trillions of pictures of the child, filling the hubs completely and overwriting any files stored by students.[8] Shortly after Billane's appearance on Essence, a group of 20 university students wielding graffiti-bombs attempted to break into the Jedi Temple, defacing the lobby and pushing into the Second Atrium until Jedi Masters Ki-Adi-Mundi and Plo Koon managed to pacify them with a Jedi mind trick. Afterwards, the unruly group was arrested and taken away by Judicial officials.[9]


"What have you to hide? Are the vaunted Masters so afraid of us that they must flee with a child they know they have no claim to?"
―Firris Palbert[src]

Throughout the process, the Jedi Council steadfastly refused to budge on the matter, and late one night in 22 BBY the Jedi Order quietly moved the then-14-month-old "Baby Ludi", along with a class of 19 other students, to a training center on Kamparas. Although Billane and Padaunete were busy reviewing casting auditions for the Baby Ludi holofeature on Kassido, acting People's Inquest leader Firris Palbert took the opportunity to further stir anti-Jedi sentiment and suggest that members should continue the protest on Kamparas. Although the Jedi Council once again refused comment, the Republic Judiciary stated that the transfer was a standard part of Jedi training and rejected the idea that it was related to any external pressure.[7]


Jonava Billane[]

"I want to thank everyone who's supported me. Your messages and holos and credit advances have meant so much."
―Jonava Billane[src]

A native of the Outer Rim world of Ord Thoden, Jonava Billane was thrust from obscurity into the galactic spotlight after surviving a destructive groundquake in her home city of Domitree. After spending a month convalescing in an outskirt town, Billane resurfaced and spent what meager funds she had at her disposal to travel to Coruscant and begin a campaign to get her daughter back from the custody of the Jedi Order. Billane's tale inspired a wide amount of sympathy and intense media coverage, and her formal petition to the Jedi Council was personally delivered by Ord Thoden's Senator, Boganni Hrul.[1] Her explosive, widely watched appearance on the Eriadu talk show Essence attracted even more eyeballs to her plight, and inspired further protests.[3] In the later stages of the custody case, Billane was more concerned by handling the upcoming holofilm on the "Baby Ludi" case than the case itself, and was busy reviewing casting auditions when her daughter was removed from Coruscant to Kamparas.[7]

Thrynka Padaunete[]

"I salute those that continue our efforts. Remember, vigilance. Who watches the watchmen, I ask? I have to go. I have another call."
―Thrynka Padaunete[src]

The founder and leader of the Jedi watch-group known as the People's Inquest, Thrynka Padaunete immediately co-opted the "Baby Ludi" case as one of the champion causes of her movement.[1] Vocal in her belief that the Jedi Order was a corrupt cult,[3] Padaunete quickly became attached to Billane and prompted a number of Inquest members to set up a months-long protest outside the Jedi Temple.[7] As the case attracted more and more publicity, Padaunete moved away from her role with the People's Inquest, eventually becoming Billane's agent and spokeswoman.[9] Padaunete eventually became intimately involved in the production of the Baby Ludi holofeature, and was replaced as acting leader of the Inquest by Firris Palbert.[7]

Ludi Billane/Aris-Del Wari[]

"I believe that a child should be with her mother, and won't stop until I have Ludi back in my arms."
―Jonava Billane[src]

Discovered in the ruins of the city of Domitree on Ord Thoden, Ludi Billane was found by Jedi rescue workers completely alone and with her parents missing and presumed dead. The Jedi quickly noticed her Force potential—while standard procedure required parental consent before taking a child for training, Billane's status as an apparent orphan prompted the Jedi to take her to Coruscant, name her Aris-Del Wari and begin her initiation into the Jedi Order.[1] While her custody case became a hot-button topic, "Baby Ludi" remained at the Jedi Temple, eventually being grouped into a clan of 20 young apprentices that were taken to continue their training on Kamparas.[7]

Behind the scenes[]

The "Baby Ludi" custody case appeared in several HoloNet News postings, created to promote the release of the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, the second installment of the Star Wars prequel trilogy.[1][3] In his original pitch for the HoloNet News website, author Pablo Hidalgo called the "Baby Ludi" story a trivial one that the media would latch on to in the face of the impending Separatist Crisis. He compared the fixation on the story to the real-life examples of Elián González, O. J. Simpson, and JonBenét Ramsey.[10]



Notes and references[]

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