A former long-serving member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insisted Dominic Ongwen participated in attacking the Lukodi camp for internally displaced people (IDP) 13 years ago.
Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, suggested on Friday that Ongwen was not at Lukodi when the attack happened in May 2004. Witness P-145 told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was. The witness also told the court Ongwen addressed LRA fighters before they went to attack Lukodi.
Ongwen, a former LRA commander, is on trial at the ICC and has been charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the attack on Lukodi. He has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on three other IDP camps, sex crimes, and conscripting child soldiers. In total Ongwen faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
On Friday, Obhof questioned Witness P-145 about what happened before the attack on Lukodi. Obhof asked him about what in the LRA was referred to as an RV, or rendezvous, during which commanders of different units met to discuss attacks or other matters.
Witness P-145 said there was an RV ahead of the attack on Lukodi, and Ongwen was present.
“When we met with his group he addressed us. He told us he has planned an operation. He told us that, ‘You people from sick bay will go and collect food’,” said the witness.
He had testified on Wednesday that at the time of the attack on Lukodi he was a lieutenant with the sick bay of the Gilva brigade.
The witness said that once the RV concluded, the different units headed towards Lukodi. He said Ongwen’s group went ahead of his group.
“What would you say if I said that Mr. Ongwen was nowhere near where you say he was located? And that in fact he was eight kilometers east of Gulu town?” asked Obhof.
“I would tell you that that’s incorrect. It’s a lie,” replied Witness P-145.
Obhof also asked the witness about an arms cache that he testified about on Wednesday, which he said he led the Ugandan army to after he escaped from the LRA.
“Mr. Witness, how did a junior officer know the location of a hidden weapons cache?” asked Obhof.
Witness P-145 said there was a time when they were moving the sick bay but the person who acted as the doctor of the sick bay, who the witness said was referred to as Doctor Walter, had a wound that had become re-infected and he could not walk.
“So, we had to carry the doctor as well the arms. So, Tulu instructed us to hide the weapons at that location,” said the witness. The Tulu the witness referred was Olak Tulu, who commanded the sick bay of Gilva brigade.
Obhof also asked the witness about the time the LRA left its bases in Sudan and moved back to Uganda, and if LRA leader Joseph Kony returned to Uganda with them. Witness P-145 said that Kony did not cross the border the same day as other units of the LRA, but he did not know if Kony did so on another day.
Ongwen’s lawyer asked Witness P-145 about Sudan because he testified on Wednesday that the LRA abducted him in 1990, and he remained with the group until 2005. During his testimony on Wednesday, Witness P-145 described some detail of the LRA life in Sudan. Obhof also asked him about when he became a member of the Gilva brigade and the brigade’s different commanders.
Witness P-145 concluded his testimony on Friday. Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said Witness P-200 was next in line to testify, beginning on Monday.