International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ntaganda Hearings Resume with Testimony Challenging Witness Who Alleged Sexual Relations in Congolese Militia

On Monday, the defense for war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda presented a witness to challenge the testimony of a prosecution witness who testified about allegations of non-consensual sexual relations within the militia that Ntaganda commanded.

In the brief moments of open court, he said he was a trader in eastern Congo’s Ituri province during the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict, when Ntaganda and his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) fighters allegedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In an October 2017 application to add Witness D207 to its list of witnesses, the defense stated that his anticipated testimony directly contradict the testimony of prosecution Witness P898.

However, challenging the defense request, the prosecution stated that Witness D207’s proposed testimony was not relevant as it … Continue Reading

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Les audiences du procès Ntaganda reprennent avec un témoignage sur les relations sexuelles au sein de la milice congolaise

Lundi, la défense de l’accusé de crimes de guerre Bosco Ntaganda a présenté un témoin pour réfuter les allégations de relations sexuelles non consenties au sein de la milice que M. Ntaganda commandait. Le témoin, qui se présente devant la Cour sous le pseudonyme de témoin D207, a donné la majorité de son témoignage devant les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) à huis clos.

Lors des brefs instants tenus en séance publique, il a déclaré avoir été commerçant en Ituri, une province de l’est du Congo, lors du conflit ethnique de 2002-2003, lorsque M. Ntaganda et ses combattants de l’Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) auraient commis des crimes de guerre et des crimes contre l’humanité.

Dans une demande datant d’octobre 2017 sollicitant l’ajout du … Continue Reading

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Defense and Prosecution Spar over Witnesses, then Compromise

The lead prosecutor in the trial of a former Ugandan rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen, has agreed not to contest the right of the defense to object in future submissions to the testimony of prosecution witnesses who do not fall strictly within the parameters of the charges against Ongwen.

Senior trial lawyer Benjamin Gumpert told the court on Thursday he made the commitment so that the defense did not have to argue the issue each time the prosecution brought a witness whose testimony included evidence outside the scope of the charges against Ongwen.

Gumpert made the commitment after Ongwen’s lead lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, argued against Witness P-372 testifying. Thursday was the second time last week the defense objected to the testimony of … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies About the Difficulty of Returning Home After Being an LRA “Wife”

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) she was in the household of Dominic Ongwen for eight months before she was later on given as a “wife” to another commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Witness P-366 told the court on Wednesday the LRA abducted her twice in 2000, and she described to the court some of her experiences in the LRA after her second abduction. Charles Taku, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, challenged her account about being in Ongwen’s household.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander, has been charged with eight counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in indirectly committing sexual and gender-based crimes such as forced marriage, sexual slavery, and enslavement. He is alleged … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Asks Witness Whether He is Confused About Ongwen Abducting Him

A defense lawyer questioned Witness P-200 on whether he was confused over who it was in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who abducted him and whether he also mixed up which LRA group he served in.

Abigail Bridgman, one of Dominic Ongwen’s lawyers, told the witness on Tuesday that Ongwen was not in the area he was taken from when the abduction occurred. Witness P-200 insisted Ongwen is the one who abducted him, and Ongwen was his commander while in the LRA.

Ongwen is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that he is alleged to have committed in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005. … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court He Twice Survived Being Nearly Killed While in the LRA

A witness broke down and cried loudly as he began narrating to the International Criminal Court (ICC) how the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducted him about 14 years ago when he and his family fled their home after neighbors warned them the rebel group was in the vicinity.

Witness P-200 broke down about half an hour into his testimony on Monday. Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt ordered a short break in proceedings to allow the witness to recover and an assessment to be made on whether he could continue his testimony. Witness P-200 resumed his testimony after about 15 minutes. Monday’s hearing was also shortened to give the witness longer breaks between his testimony.

He is testifying in the ICC trial of Dominic … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Officer Insists Ongwen Participated in Lukodi Attack

A former long-serving member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insisted Dominic Ongwen participated in attacking the Lukodi camp for internally displaced people (IDP) 13 years ago.

Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, suggested on Friday that Ongwen was not at Lukodi when the attack happened in May 2004. Witness P-145 told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was. The witness also told the court Ongwen addressed LRA fighters before they went to attack Lukodi.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander, is on trial at the ICC and has been charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the attack on Lukodi. He has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on three … Continue Reading

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Bemba Pleads With ICC Appeals Judges for Reduced Sentence

Former Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is serving an 18-year prison sentence at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has pleaded with appeals judges to lower his sentence, arguing that the nearly ten years he has spent in detention are a sufficient sentence.

Bemba is also appealing the conviction decision, arguing that his fair trial rights were abused during the trial. He argues that judges dismissed all evidence submitted by the defense that exonerated him and instead based its conviction on weak prosecution evidence.

At an appeal hearing last week, defense lawyer Kate Gibson said the 18-year sentence was disproportionate to the conviction, adding that it is “in fact so unreasonable as to constitute an abuse of the Trial Chamber’s discretion.”

However, the … Continue Reading

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Ambiguity Around the Participation of Gbagbo’s Witnesses

The last prosecution witness in the trial of Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé completed her testimony on Friday, January 19, 2018. Defense witnesses were expected as soon as the trial resumed, but they may not be heard for several weeks.

A forensic expert, Professor Hélène Yapo Etté, completed her testimony before the International Criminal Court (ICC). As the last witness called by the prosecution, the medical examiner was questioned by the various parties throughout the day’s hearing.

The prosecution has finished calling its witnesses, but nothing is clear about the passage of the witnesses called by the defense. In fact, while they were expected to begin their testimony just after the final prosecution witness, it is not known to date when they … Continue Reading

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A Former LRA Officer Disputes the LRA’s Goal was to Overthrow the Ugandan Government

A former long-serving member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that after he escaped the group he concluded the LRA’s goal was not to overthrow the Ugandan government. He said he also appealed on FM radio to LRA members to leave the group.

Witness P-145 told the court on Wednesday about collecting and carrying away food looted during an LRA attack on the Lukodi camp for internally displaced people (IDP). He said he did not participate in the attack nor did he witness what happened during the attack.

Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander who is on trial at the ICC, has been charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his … Continue Reading

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