Witness Testifies About Collaborating with Ugandan Rebel Group

James Okot Ojwiya told the International Criminal Court on Monday about his brief abduction by an Ugandan rebel group in the 1980s and his accepting to be a coordinator for the group.

Ojwiya told the court he was abducted in northern Uganda by the Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDA) and said he pleaded with them to let him go because he could not cope with life in the bush. Ojwiya said on Monday that he is 69 years old so at the time of his abduction he would have been in his 30s.

He said the UPDA allowed him to return to his home and asked him to be their coordinator in his home area. Ojwiya said as coordinator he was expected to help them get food and other supplies. He said he accepted to do this.

He was testifying in the trial of a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Dominic Ongwen, who is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ongwen is alleged to have had a role in the crimes that were committed between July 2002 and December 2005 in northern Uganda.

Ojwiya also explained to the court Acholi terms involving reconciliation, compensation, and good and bad spirits. The terms Ojwiya explained included mato put, moyo ot, tum, cen, and orang.

When Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, finished questioning Ojwiya, the prosecution said they did not wish to question him.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said the next hearing will be on October 22 when Witness D-80 is scheduled to testify.