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

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

ICC Issues Order for Reparations to Victims of Crimes Committed by Former Congolese Militia Leader

In a hearing this morning, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges read a decision awarding 297 victims of crimes committed by former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga a symbolic compensation of USD 250 per victim. Victims were also awarded collective reparations in the form of support for housing, support for income-generating activities, education aid, and psychological support. In reaching their decision, judges took into account the needs of all victims and consultations undertaken with them and sought to ensure their safety, physical, and psychological well‑being and privacy.

This is significant because it is only the second time in the court’s history that an award for reparations has been ordered, and it is the first time that the court has awarded reparations to … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

La CPI a émis une ordonnance de réparation pour les victimes des crimes commis par l’ancien chef de milice congolais

À l’audience de ce matin, les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont lu une décision accordant à 297 victimes des crimes commis par l’ancien chef de milice congolais Germain Katanga une compensation symbolique de 250 USD par victime. Les victimes se sont vus également accorder des réparations collectives sous la forme d’aides au logement, d’aides pour les activités génératrices de revenus, d’aides à l’éducation ainsi que sous la forme d’un soutien psychologique. En prenant leur décision, les juges ont tenu compte des besoins de toutes les victimes et des consultations menées auprès d’elles tout en cherchant à garantir leur sécurité, leur bien-être physique et psychologique‑ainsi que leur vie privée.

Cet élément a son importance car il s’agit seulement de la seconde … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

ICC Judges Hand Bemba €300,000 Fine, Defense Lawyers Get Suspended Sentences

Jean-Pierre Bemba has been handed the heaviest penalty among the five individuals sentenced today for tampering with witnesses at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Judges also issued suspended sentences for Bemba’s two former lawyers and also imposed monetary penalties on two of those convicted.

The former vice president of Congo was sentenced to one-year in prison and fined €300,000, which he has to pay within three months. His former lead defense counsel, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, was fined €30,000, also payable in three months, and handed a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years, suspended over three years. The two fines shall ultimately be transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims.

Judges ruled that the time Bemba’s four associates spent in pre-trial detention should be … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

Sentencing in ICC’s First Witness Tampering Trial Due Tomorrow

Tomorrow, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will deliver the sentences of five individuals convicted of tampering with defense witnesses who testified in the trial of Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The five, who include Bemba, were convicted last October on various charges in the first trial under Article 70 of the court’s Rome Statute, which relates to offenses against the administration of justice. In the conviction decision, judges found that the five intentionally corruptly influenced 14 defense witnesses and presented their false testimonial evidence to the court.

Delivery of the decision on sentencing is scheduled for 11:00 local time in The Hague in open court. Judges ordered all the accused to be present in the courtroom. Bemba’s four associates have been on conditional … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

Appeals Judges Maintain Restrictions on Ntaganda’s Communications

International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges have upheld a trial chamber’s decision to maintain restrictions that were imposed on Bosco Ntaganda’s communications in 2015 after the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) accused him of witness tampering.

The Appeals Chamber found that trial judges correctly balanced Ntaganda’s right to respect for his private and family life against the objectives of ensuring the safety of witnesses, preventing breaches of confidentiality, and ensuring the integrity of the trial proceedings.

They said a finding that there were reasonable grounds to believe Ntaganda personally engaged in witness interference was relevant to the imposition of these restrictions and for their continuation in order to reduce the risk of tampering to the proceedings.

On March 13, Ntaganda’s lawyers wrote to judges requesting … Continue Reading

Leave a comment