International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Talks of Seeing LRA Leader Being Possessed by Spirits

A former long-serving member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that sessions during which the LRA leader said he was possessed by spirits helped bind young members to the rebel group.

Witness P-070 told the court on Monday that LRA leader Joseph Kony told members of the rebel group about several spirits he said would possess him. He said whenever Kony knew this was going to happen he would call together all members of the group to witness it and hear what the spirit had to say.

The witness said when Kony was possessed by a spirit his eyes turned red and he would have a vacant look. He said other times Kony would have a … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Kony Ordered Attacks on Teso in Retaliation for the Death of a Senior LRA Commander

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the top leadership of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) took no action against a brigade commander who disobeyed orders to go to the battlefront and another who released abducted civilians.

Witness P-070, a former LRA fighter, told the court on Friday the commander of the Gilva brigade was known as coward among the senior ranks of the LRA. The witness also said the commander of the Stockree brigade at times told his fighters not to kill civilians, released newly abducted civilians, and deliberately hid this from his superiors.

The witness was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Fighter Says Ongwen Did Not Plan Pajule Attack

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) testified that Dominic Ongwen could not have planned an attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people—an attack he has been charged with at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Witness P-045 told the court on Thursday that Ongwen was under arrest at Control Altar, the LRA’s high command, when the Pajule attack was planned. She said Ongwen was present when the Pajule attack was discussed at a meeting at Control Altar, but that others who took part in the meeting were more senior than Ongwen.

Ongwen faces 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the October 2003 attack on Pajule. He has been charged with … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Fighter Says She Never Saw Kony in Battle, but Commanders Obeyed His Orders Without Question

A woman who once fought for the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that a female member of the rebel group could choose a husband only if she had been widowed.

Witness P-045 told the court on Wednesday that a widow was free to court whomever she wanted but her choice of partner still had to be approved by her LRA superior. She said this is how she got a second husband after her first one died in battle.

Several witnesses in the trial of a former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen have already testified that when the rebel group abducted girls, commanders allocated them to men and the girls had no choice in the matter. The witnesses have … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Fighter Testifies About Attacks on Abok and Odek IDP Camps

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) his role in attacks on the Abok and Odek camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda.

Witness P-340 told the court this week how he was abducted by the LRA and remained with the group for two years before escaping from the rebel group in late 2004.

The witness was testifying in hearings before Trial Chamber IX that resumed on Monday after a three-week break. The previous hearing in the trial of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen took place on August 22.

During his cross-examination of Witness P-340, Ongwen’s lead lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, doubted whether the witness was a member of the LRA’s … Continue Reading

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Ugandan Government Administrator Denies Stealing From IDPs

During a hearing in the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC), a long-serving Ugandan government administrator denied allegations of stealing from people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. He also denied allegations that he attempted to kill opponents of the Ugandan government as he negotiated peace with them.

Ongwen is on trial at the ICC on 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on camps for internally displaced people and his alleged role in sex crimes.

Charles Taku, a lawyer for Ongwen, questioned Resident District Commissioner Santos Okot Lapolo about the allegations that came out in two court cases filed against him in Ugandan courts.

Taku also asked Okot about … Continue Reading

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How the Trial of Dominic Ongwen Has Shaped Attitudes Toward International Criminal Justice in Uganda

Uganda is currently the focus of two international criminal trials: that of Thomas Kwoyelo before the International Crimes Division (ICD) in Uganda, and Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands. Both Kwoyelo and Ongwen are charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda while in the service of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This has inevitably stirred debate in Uganda regarding which of the two courts is more effective, and shaped attitudes towards international criminal justice in the country.

Ongwen is currently standing trial before the ICC in The Hague. His trial began on December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Questions Officer About His Defection Offer to Ongwen

A defense lawyer for Dominic Ongwen questioned whether a senior Ugandan military officer could follow through on a defection offer he made to Ongwen, given that the officer held a lower rank than Ongwen and that, at the time, an outstanding warrant for Ongwen’s arrest had been issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Abigail Bridgman, a defense attorney representing Ongwen, raised the issue on Tuesday following Monday’s testimony by Colonel Irumba Tingira Omero, who stated that he tried to get Ongwen to defect from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) when he met him in September 2006.

At the time of the meeting, Tingira held the rank of captain in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces. Ongwen was commander of the Sinia Brigade … Continue Reading

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Ugandan Intelligence Officer Talks of Joking With and Irritating Ongwen

A senior Ugandan military intelligence officer described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) how he joked with Dominic Ongwen, a former rebel commander, during a ceasefire between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan government in 2006.

Colonel Irumba Tingira Omero told the court on Monday that when the conversation turned to whether Ongwen would allow the younger rebel fighters under his command to leave the LRA, Ongwen became irritated.

Tingira, the name by which the intelligence officer was referred to in court, said his conversation with Ongwen took place in September 2006. He spoke with Ongwen in one of the places the Ugandan army had designated for safe passage for LRA fighters on their way to assembly points in Southern … Continue Reading

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Ugandan Civil Society Questions an ICC Prosecution Delegation on the Ongwen Trial

As the trial of Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court (ICC) went into summer recess, representatives of the Court’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) responded to questions put by civil society in northern Uganda.

On August 1, 2017, a delegation from the OTP met with over 40 representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Gulu, northern Uganda. The objective was to provide updates on developments since the commencement of the Ongwen trial on December 6, 2016 and respond to questions from the community. The meeting was public and this article reflects on the questions raised by the CSO representatives and how the OTP officials responded to them.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly … Continue Reading

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