International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Low Turnout at the Lukodi Memorial Prayers as Victims Express Dissatisfaction with the Slow Pace of Ongwen’s Trial

Lukodi village is located approximately 17 kilometers from Gulu town. It was the scene of a horrendous massacre by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in May 2004, leading to the death of over 69 civilians. Dominic Ongwen is currently on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in part due to what happened here.

Ongwen’s trial before the ICC started on December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in attacks on camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. The attacks took place between 2003 and 2004 in the camps of Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. Ongwen has also been charged with sexual and gender-based crimes, including the crime … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda to Testify For Weeks in His Own Defense

Bosco Ntaganda will take the witness stand next month to testify in his own defense at his International Criminal Court (ICC) trial. According to his lawyers, the former Congolese rebel leader’s testimony could last for up to six weeks.

In an interview today with the International Justice Monitor, defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon explained why Ntaganda has decided to take the witness stand—unlike most individuals who have previously been tried at the ICC.

“Mr. Ntaganda wants to establish, himself, that he’s not the person portrayed in the media and elsewhere. He wants to establish who he is, what he did, and why he did what he did,” said Bourgon. He added that Ntaganda surrendered voluntarily to the court and was willing to face … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda devrait témoigner pendant plusieurs semaines pour sa défense

Bosco Ntaganda se présentera à la barre des témoins le mois prochain pour témoigner pour sa propre défense lors de son procès qui se tient devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI). Selon ses avocats, le témoignage de l’ancien chef rebelle congolais pourrait durer jusqu’à six semaines.

Dans une interview donnée aujourd’hui à International Justice Monitor, l’avocat de la défense Stéphane Bourgon a expliqué les raisons pour lesquelles M. Ntaganda avait décidé de se présenter à la barre, contrairement à la plupart des autres personnes qui ont été jugées devant la CPI.

« M. Ntaganda souhaite démontrer par lui-même qu’il n’est pas la personne décrite dans les médias ou ailleurs. Il veut montrer qui il est, ce qu’il a fait et les raisons pour lesquelles il … Continue Reading

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No Stay of Proceedings in Ntaganda Trial

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have rejected a request by Bosco Ntaganda to stay proceedings in his trial over allegations that he could no longer be assured of a fair trial because prosecutors wrongly accessed critical defense information. In an April 28 ruling, judges considered that it was possible to continue conducting a fair trial for the former Congolese rebel leader.

Last March, Stéphane Bourgon, who heads Ntaganda’s defense team, argued that a stay of proceedings was the only adequate remedy after the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) acquired thousands of recordings of the accused’s conversations, including those on defense strategy and his personal knowledge of the case. The records were acquired while the OTP investigated Ntaganda for witness tampering under … Continue Reading

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Pas de suspension de la procédure dans le procès Ntaganda

Les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont rejeté la demande de Bosco Ntaganda de suspendre la procédure dans son procès qui a allégué qu’un procès équitable ne pourrait plus lui être assuré puisque les procureurs avaient eu accès par erreur à des informations cruciales de la défense. Dans une décision du 28 avril, les juges ont considéré qu’il était possible de continuer de mener un procès équitable pour l’ancien chef rebelle congolais.

En mars dernier, Stéphane Bourgon, qui dirige l’équipe de défense de M. Ntaganda, avait soutenu qu’une suspension de la procédure était le seul recours adéquat après que le Bureau du Procureur (BdP) ait obtenu des centaines d’enregistrements des conversations de l’accusé, notamment celles concernant la stratégie de la … Continue Reading

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Judges Decline to Suspend Reparations Process in Bemba Case

A defense appeal to suspend reparations proceedings in the case of Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese opposition leader who is serving an 18-year prison sentence, has been rejected by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges. The judges disagreed with the defense lawyers’ claim that it was premature to continue with the reparations process when the Appeals Chamber was considering Bemba’s appeal for acquittal.

In the May 5 ruling, trial chamber judges determined that the court’s founding law and rules of procedure allowed reparations proceedings to take place in parallel to a pending appeal. Bemba is appealing both his March 2016 conviction and the sentence handed down last June.

The prosecution and victims’ lawyers had asked judges to throw out the defense’s request, arguing that, … Continue Reading

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Civil Society Group Calls for Investigation of Former Judges Who Overturned Ríos Montt Verdict

On Wednesday, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH), one of the civil parties to the genocide case against former dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt, announced that it is filing legal motions against three former judges of the Constitutional Court.

The motion alleges that the judges committed legal prevarication, or breach of duty, when they ruled on May 20, 2013 to partially suspend the genocide proceedings and thereby vacated the guilty verdict rendered against Ríos Montt by High Risk Tribunal “A” on May 10, 2103.

The announcement by CALDH coincided with the fourth anniversary of the Rios Montt conviction.

Photo courtesy of CALDH.

CALDH is calling upon the Attorney General’s Office to name a special prosecutor to investigate the charges against the … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court About Former LRA Officers Senior to Ongwen Who are Free

A former intelligence officer of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Ugandan government has not prosecuted four former LRA members who held the same or higher rank than Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the ICC.

Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s defense lawyers, asked Witness P-142 on Tuesday about the rank Kenneth Banya, Sam Kolo, Onen Kabule and Odongo Acellam held while they were in the LRA and whether they were free after leaving the rebel group. The witness said that he knew of only one of the four being imprisoned, but it was for crimes he committed after he left the LRA and not in relation to any actions he took while … Continue Reading


LRA was Trained by and Shared Bases with Sudanese Military, Says Witness

A former intelligence officer with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Ugandan rebel group was trained by and shared bases with Sudan’s military in the 1990s.

Witness P-142 told the court on Monday that in 1994 or 1995 the Ugandan military attacked the LRA in the bases it shared with Sudan’s military in what used to be the southern part of Sudan. What was southern Sudan seceded from that country after a 2011 referendum to form the independent nation of South Sudan.

The witness testified about what happened in Sudan of the 1990s while responding to the questions of defense lawyer Thomas Obhof, who is representing Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander on trial at … Continue Reading

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Witness: Ongwen Distributed Abducted Girls to LRA Leaders

A former intelligence officer in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group has told International Criminal Court (ICC) judges that war crimes accused Dominic Ongwen was in charge of “distributing” abducted girls and women to senior fighters in his brigade.

Testifying under the pseudonym Witness P-142, the former fighter said once girls and women were abducted, they did not stay with low-ranking fighters but were instead taken to the commander of a brigade. It was the commander’s responsibility to assign the abductees as wives to senior members of his brigade after receiving the blessing of the LRA leader Joseph Kony.

“No ordinary person was allowed to stay with these [abductees],” said Witness P-142. “It was the senior commanders to decide what to … Continue Reading

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