International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

After Ntaganda’s Testimony, Trial Proceeds Mostly in Closed Session

Hearings in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have mostly proceeded in closed session since the accused concluded giving evidence in his own defense. The testimony of three individuals who have testified after Ntaganda, all of them via video link, has mostly been heard in closed session.

On Monday, Witness D201, believed to be a former head teacher in a school in Congo’s Ituri district, testified about students’ school attendance patterns during ethnic conflict in the region in 2002 and 2003. It is unclear what school the witness worked at and how his testimony related to the charges against Ntaganda.

Earlier on Monday, Witness D007 also testified, predominantly in closed session. This individual also appears to have … Continue Reading

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Witness Says He Was Caned 50 Times as a “Welcome” to the LRA

A former member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he and other abductees were each caned 50 times as a “welcome” to the rebel group.

Witness P-097 told the court on Tuesday that being caned was a regular punishment for failing to follow instructions or doing something a superior did not like. He gave the example of when he was caned 25 times for losing some cooking pans as he was crossing a river.

The witness was testifying in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people … Continue Reading

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Witness Talks of Seeing LRA Leader Being Possessed by Spirits

A former long-serving member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that sessions during which the LRA leader said he was possessed by spirits helped bind young members to the rebel group.

Witness P-070 told the court on Monday that LRA leader Joseph Kony told members of the rebel group about several spirits he said would possess him. He said whenever Kony knew this was going to happen he would call together all members of the group to witness it and hear what the spirit had to say.

The witness said when Kony was possessed by a spirit his eyes turned red and he would have a vacant look. He said other times Kony would have a … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Kony Ordered Attacks on Teso in Retaliation for the Death of a Senior LRA Commander

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the top leadership of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) took no action against a brigade commander who disobeyed orders to go to the battlefront and another who released abducted civilians.

Witness P-070, a former LRA fighter, told the court on Friday the commander of the Gilva brigade was known as coward among the senior ranks of the LRA. The witness also said the commander of the Stockree brigade at times told his fighters not to kill civilians, released newly abducted civilians, and deliberately hid this from his superiors.

The witness was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Fighter Says Ongwen Did Not Plan Pajule Attack

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) testified that Dominic Ongwen could not have planned an attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people—an attack he has been charged with at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Witness P-045 told the court on Thursday that Ongwen was under arrest at Control Altar, the LRA’s high command, when the Pajule attack was planned. She said Ongwen was present when the Pajule attack was discussed at a meeting at Control Altar, but that others who took part in the meeting were more senior than Ongwen.

Ongwen faces 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the October 2003 attack on Pajule. He has been charged with … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Fighter Says She Never Saw Kony in Battle, but Commanders Obeyed His Orders Without Question

A woman who once fought for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that a female member of the rebel group could choose a husband only if she had been widowed.

Witness P-045 told the court on Wednesday that a widow was free to court whomever she wanted but her choice of partner still had to be approved by her LRA superior. She said this is how she got a second husband after her first one died in battle.

Several witnesses in the trial of a former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen have already testified that when the rebel group abducted girls, commanders allocated them to men and the girls had no choice in the matter. The witnesses have … Continue Reading

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In Concluding Testimony at the ICC, Ntaganda Denies Interfering with Witnesses

After several weeks on the witness stand, Bosco Ntaganda today concluded giving evidence in his own defense at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The concluding parts of his testimony focused on his communications from the court’s detention center, which the prosecution alleges he used to interfere with witnesses.

Asked by defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon whether, through his communications, he asked anyone to “mislead” or “lie before the court,” Ntaganda replied, “Not at all. When I would speak to someone, often it was people I had contact with [before detention at the ICC]. I would say how ‘are things going?’ If it was someone who was with me [during the conflict], I would ask to be reminded of certain events,” stated Ntaganda.

He … Continue Reading

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En conclusion de son témoignage devant la CPI, M. Ntaganda nie avoir exercé des pressions sur les témoins

Après s’être présenté plusieurs semaines à la barre des témoins, Bosco Ntaganda a conclu aujourd’hui son témoignage apporté pour sa propre défense devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI). La conclusion de son témoignage s’est concentré sur ses communications passées depuis le centre de détention de la Cour qu’il aurait, selon l’accusation, utilisées pour influencer les témoins.

Interrogé par l’avocat de la défense Stéphane Bourgon pour savoir si, lors de ses communications, il avait demandé à une personne de « duper » ou de « mentir à la Cour », M. Ntaganda a répondu, « Pas du tout. Lorsque je parlais à quelqu’un, il s’agissait souvent d’une personne avec laquelle j’étais en contact avant [d’être en détention à la CPI]. Je disais, « comment ça va ? ». S’il s’agissait de … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Fighter Testifies About Attacks on Abok and Odek IDP Camps

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) his role in attacks on the Abok and Odek camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda.

Witness P-340 told the court this week how he was abducted by the LRA and remained with the group for two years before escaping from the rebel group in late 2004.

The witness was testifying in hearings before Trial Chamber IX that resumed on Monday after a three-week break. The previous hearing in the trial of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen took place on August 22.

During his cross-examination of Witness P-340, Ongwen’s lead lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, doubted whether the witness was a member of the LRA’s … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda to Call Fewer Witnesses Than Initially Anticipated

Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers intend to reduce the number of witnesses they will call to testify for the former Congolese rebel commander at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We need to take full stock of Ntaganda’s testimony before we confirm to the chamber and come forward with a list of new witnesses,” lead defense lawyer Stéphane Bourgon said on Friday afternoon. The defense said it would provide the details of the witnesses to be dropped off its list, but that it was “likely they could be more than 11”.

Prior to the opening of the defense case last May, Bourgon indicated that they intended to call more than 100 witnesses to testify for Ntaganda, who is on trial at the ICC over crimes … Continue Reading

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