International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Tells Court About Attacks on Pajule and Odek Camps

A witness narrated to the International Criminal Court (ICC) what happened in attacks on the Pajule and Odek camps for internally displaced people in northern Uganda, attacks which form part of the charges against Dominic Ongwen at the ICC.

Witness P-309 told the court on Tuesday that he was selected to take part in the raids carried by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on Pajule and Odek. The witness also told the court that soon after he was abducted, he was assigned to serve as an escort to Ongwen.

The witness testified under protective in-court measures that include distortion of his voice and face in public broadcasts of the proceedings. He is also publicly identified by pseudonym. Witness P-309 is testifying with a … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court He Has Nothing Good to Say About Ongwen

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he had nothing good to say about Dominic Ongwen, despite a defense lawyer asking him several times how he would describe Ongwen as a person.

Krispus Ayena Odongo, Ongwen’s lead defense counsel, asked Witness P-379 on Monday to describe Ongwen. The witness was a member of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) battalion Ongwen commanded, known as the Oka battalion.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some of the charges against him are for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people, namely Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. The attacks took place between 2003 and 2004. Ongwen is also charged with … Continue Reading

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Kwoyelo’s Trial Drags On in Ugandan Court as Defense Counsel Labels the Charges ‘Fatally and Incurably Defective’

Colonel Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is currently facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court in Uganda. Kwoyelo has been in detention since he was captured by the Ugandan army in 2008.

The start of Kwoyelo’s trial, however, does not appear imminent. Delays have characterized his case since 2008, the latest being an intense debate on whether or not the ICD has jurisdiction to try Kwoyelo using international criminal law for crimes committed in a domestic setting.

Kwoyelo first appeared before the ICD in 2011, but the start of his trial was delayed as a result of preliminary objections raised by his defense lawyers … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Poor Living Conditions in the LRA and IDP Camps

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that most fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) slept in the open on the ground because the group had a limited number of tents and beds, which were used by the commanders.

Witness P-379 said on Tuesday LRA commanders were also given priority when it came to food. He said if food was scarce then the choice bits, such as beans or chicken or goat meat, were served to the commanders.

The witness testified about his experience in the Oka battalion of the LRA, which he said was led by Dominic Ongwen at the time he was a member. Ongwen is on trial at the ICC on 70 counts of war crimes … Continue Reading

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Combative Witness Raises Questions about Witness Preparation at the ICC

Earlier this month a prosecution witness testifying in the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC) made headlines when he was cautioned by the judges for his behavior on the witness stand. As a member of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), Witness P-003 intercepted radio communications between members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during the conflict in northern Uganda, and he was called to The Hague testify about those communications.

However, upon cross-examination Ongwen’s lead defense lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, in an effort to impugn the witness’s credibility, presented a letter in court that alleged the witness acted inappropriately during intercept operations and drew a gun on an intelligence officer working from the same compound. The … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Being Attacked by His Former LRA Battalion While in Pajule IDP Camp

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was the victim of an LRA attack on a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) where he was living just months after escaping from the group.

Witness P-379 narrated to the court on Monday how he and other internally displaced people were attacked in October 2003 by the Oka battalion of the LRA, the same battalion he had been a member of and escaped from in August 2003.

The attack on Pajule the witness testified about forms part of the charges against Dominic Ongwen at the ICC. Ongwen has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on three other IDP camps: Odek, Abok, and … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies About Attacks Ongwen Led

A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighter told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about his abduction by the battalion led by Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the court. He also discussed attacks on a barrack and town center that were directed by Ongwen.

Witness P-379, who began testifying on Friday, is doing so under in-court protective measures. One measure taken is that his face is distorted in broadcasts to the public either on the screens in the public gallery or the court’s live stream of the proceedings. He is also being identified by pseudonym and any information that may identify him during his testimony is given in private session.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said that Witness P-379 has also been granted … Continue Reading

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Doubts Casts on What Witness Knows About Ongwen or Attacks on IDP Camps

The lead lawyer for Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has doubted whether a prosecution witness served as an escort to Ongwen during his time in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Krispus Ayena Odongo expressed this and other doubts on Thursday about key parts of the testimony of Witness P-330. Odongo challenged the witness about attacks he said he took part in as a member of a LRA brigade that Ongwen was a commander in. Odongo also questioned whether Witness P-330 helped Ongwen when he was injured and took months to recuperate.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the charges Ongwen is facing are dozens of them for … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Suggests Witness Was Part of a Gang of Thieves

A defense lawyer has suggested that a prosecution witness who once served as an escort to Dominic Ongwen was part of a gang that robbed people and their homes in part of northern Uganda.

Kripus Ayena Odongo asked Witness P-330 about the gang on Wednesday because the witness had previously testified that before he was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), he was captive of a gang of two men who robbed people in his village.

Witness P-330 has been testifying since last Friday in the trial of Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ongwen is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people and … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court About Nightmares and Injuries That Continue to Ail Him

A former fighter of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he suffers nightmares to date, and the injuries he received while fighting for the LRA have never healed properly.

Witness P-330 told the court on Tuesday about his nightmares and injuries as part of his testimony as someone who is registered as a victim in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. The witness testified last week that he was abducted by the brigade that Ongwen led, and he later became an escort to Ongwen.

This makes Witness P-330 the first dual status witness to testify in the trial of Ongwen. A dual status witness is someone who is a prosecution witness but is also registered … Continue Reading

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