A defense lawyer doubted whether an International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecution witness took part in an attack on Pajule, a camp for internally displaced people that Dominic Ongwen has been charged with attacking.
Thomas Obhof also doubted on Friday whether Ongwen could have taken part in the attack because around the time the attack on Pajule took place Obhof said Ongwen had been ordered to meet the deputy leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Vincent Otti, in Teso, which is in eastern Uganda.
The prosecution and defense have agreed that the attack on Pajule occurred on or about October 10, 2003. Pajule is one of the camps where civilians had sought refuge from the conflict in northern Uganda between the LRA and the government that took place between 1987 and 2006.
Obhof pointed out to Witness P-309 that he told the court he was in Teso when he heard about the death of a senior LRA commander, Tabuley, which occurred in October 2003.
“Considering everything we have talked about Mr. Witness are you sure you went to Pajule in October 2003?” asked Obhof.
“I can confirm that I went to Pajule and witnessed what happened there. Even if the year was different from I have said, well maybe I got the year wrong,” replied Witness P-309. The witness had testified about taking part in the attack on Pajule during his previous testimony on March 28.
Together with the attack on Pajule, Ongwen is also charged with attacking three other IDP camps, namely, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. He is also charged with forcibly marrying seven women and committing sexual crimes against them. In total he is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
On Friday, Witness P-309 was also not able to say for sure whether Ongwen took part in the attack on Odek. The witness told the court that Ongwen was part of the group that marched to attack Odek, but when the group split up to attack the barracks and IDP camp separately, he did not know where Ongwen went.
“Now whilst you were in the town center, you didn’t see Mr. Ongwen in the town center?” asked Obhof.
“No, I did not see him,” replied Witness P-309.
Obhof questioned the witness about his earlier testimony that he saw Ongwen in the distance after the group the witness was part of had left the barracks.
“When you saw Mr. Ongwen, how far away was he from you?” asked Obhof.
“I saw him among people, but I did not measure the distance,” replied the witness.
“So was it possible that Mr. Ongwen never actually went into Odek?” continued Obhof.
“We went together, but when we were running [to attack Odek] I do not know which direction he ran to,” said the witness.
Before this set of questions Obhof asked the witness about a meeting that occurred ahead of the attack on Odek. He asked the witness what was the distance from that meeting place to Odek, but Witness P-309 said he did not know. Obhof told him it was 21 kilometers.
Obhof asked the witness to describe the terrain the LRA fighters walked through, but he said he could not remember. Obhof asked him from which direction they approached Odek town. Witness P-309 said it was from the northeast. Obhof told the witness that based on his testimony the LRA would have approached Odek from a north by north west direction.
After Obhof questioned Witness P-309, Ongwen’s lead counsel, Krispus Ayena Odongo continued to question the witness for a few minutes. Odongo’s questions were of a personal nature, so the court went into private session in line with the in-court protective measures granted to the witness to protect his identity from the public.
When Odongo finished his questions, Witness P-309 was released by the court ending the day’s hearing.
Witness P-264 is scheduled to testify on Monday, April 3.