A second son of Joseph Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader, testified before the International Criminal Court (ICC), and he told judges that as a child he moved around a lot. He also said his close relatives treated him well.
Witness D-131 told the court on Monday it was distant relatives, and some members of the communities where he stayed, who resented him because of who his father is. The witness did not name in open court his father, any of his close relatives, or the different places he lived. He only referred to them using pseudonyms. Another son of Kony’s testified as a defense witness on January 31.
The use of pseudonyms in open court when referring to people or places that could easily identify Witness D-131 was part of the in-court protective measures Trial Chamber IX granted him. 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 that occurred between July 2002 and December 2005. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
On Monday, Witness D-131 told the court he and someone he referred to in open court as “person one” lived in a place he referred to as “location four.” He said while he and person one lived in location four, some relatives and community members resented them a lot because they suffered losses during the northern Uganda conflict. The witness did not say what losses they were resented for.
“They looked at person one as a part of everything that happened,” said Witness D-131. Later during his testimony he said person one was Kony’s wife.
“They saw me and person one as unfit to live in the community provided person seven was my father, so they are thinking, all they could conclude was I was maybe destined to take over from person seven,” said Witness D-131.
The witness did not name Kony as his father, but in a July 5, 2018 decision granting his protective measures, Single Judge Bertram Schmitt referred to Witness D-131 as a child of Kony.
On Monday, Witness D-131 told the court he moved when person one died. He said he moved to “location five” and lived with someone he identified in open court as “person two” and the mother of person one. He said he stayed with her for about four years. The witness said person two told him that while person one was alive the Ugandan military interrogated her several times.
He said person two told him the military treated person one with “with a lot of disrespect.”
“They didn’t look at her as a citizen of Uganda. They didn’t look at her as a human being, someone with feelings,” Witness D-131 recalled person two telling him. He said at the time he was a child.
He said while he was at location five, “the war was intensifying” and the military also interrogated person two several times, asking her about the location of Kony. He said she told them she did not know where Kony was.
He said the military asked her about the location of Kony, or person seven as he referred to him in open court, “because person two was the mother of person one and person one was the wife of person seven. So, they concluded in their mind person two had an idea of where person seven was.”
At one point during the testimony of Witness D-131, Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, asked him whether person seven ever contacted him.
“Person seven contacted me like in a week, three times,” replied Witness D-131.
Obhof asked him what he talked about.
“Person seven basically talked about education, being obedient, being respectful,” said Witness D-131.
Much of the testimony of Witness D-131 was closed to the public as part of the in-court protective measures he was granted to protect his identity. The prosecution did not ask him any questions.
Witness D-131 concluded his testimony on Monday. Witness D-140 will testify on Tuesday.