The Dominic Ongwen trial took a 12-day break until March 19,2018.Earlier, a witness who spent 13-and-a-half years in the Lord’s Resistance Army told the International Criminal Court that one of the commanders in the rebel force did not have any interest in women.
On Monday, February 26, 2018, Witness P-085 testifying under courtroom protection -- with his face pixilated on video screen, voice distorted and referred to only by a pseudonym -- told Trial Chamber IX judges of the ICC that he did not understand if LRA Commander Okwee was impotent or did not just like women. He was testifying in the crimes against humanity trial in which former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen is facing 70 charges.
Here is an excerpt of the exchange between Witness P-085 and the defence lawyers Thomas Obhof and Krispus Ayena Odongo:
Obhof: You said that you did not hear anything bad about Mr Ongwen. Did you hear anything good?
Witness: He did not beat the soldiers; by that I know the commander is good to the soldiers.
Obhof: In your opinion, Mr Ongwen did not beat his soldiers?
Witness: I did not hear of any soldiers he had beaten but I do not know. Perhaps, he had beaten somebody.
Witness: The time I was abducted Ongwen was also young … They (LRA) did not have ranks. The ranks were limited to people who had been there for a long time.
Obhof: What was [Lukwiya] Raska’s position in 2003?
Witness: At the time they would say he was the brigadier general … In the LRA, things are constantly changing. Today you are given this position tomorrow another.
Obhof: What would happen to somebody if they (LRA commanders) refused four women?
Witness: Okwee did not have interest in women. I did not understand if he was impotent or if he did not like women. What I could see is that he was not interested in wives.
(The lead defence lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, takes over the questioning)
Odongo: Would you still believe that the cattle-rustling was done by Karamojong from 1986 to 1995?
Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt: My problem is that the witness might not know anything related to helicopters identifying cattle-rustlers.
Witness: When the LRA abducted me and took me to the bush that is when I heard Kony talking about the government stealing wealth from Acholi, Lang’i and other tribes as well from that region. When he said that, he did not go into details about whether or not they (Uganda government) used helicopters to source the cattle because when this thing happened in 1986, 1987 to 1995 whenever we heard of Karamojong we would run…
Witness: I am stationed in the barracks. When I go home, I go for a week. I do not have time to sit, chat and converse.
Odongo: Let’s talk about the spirits’ atmosphere in the LRA. On Friday, you told the court when you were abducted they performed certain rituals on you. Is that correct?
Witness: That is what I observed and went through.
Odongo: Did you believe that the spirits protected you?
Witness: When we go to battle we don’t think about spirits protecting us, we are up, around or about. The most important task is for you to go and fight and finish the battle in the best way that you can.
Odongo: There were two targets: military and civilian. What was Dominic Ongwen renown for -- military targets or civilian targets?
Witness: Civilians would stay in their homes but they (LRA) did not have a base where they could go and stay. They were mobile. When you get to that place and decide to fire bullets, they do not discriminate. The civilians would be caught in the crossfire… I did not hear about him (Ongwen) attacking civilians. They do not make any plans that target civilians since they are not attacked in isolation except the time that the civilians went to the camps but when there are soldiers.
Odongo: Mr Witness, you have been so kind to help court to establish the truth. Pass my regards. Mr President this will end my follow up cross-examination.
Judge Schmitt: Thank you, Mr Witness, for enabling the Court to establish the truth. Have a safe trip. Tomorrow we start with Witness P-209.
Copyright © 2018. Journalists for Justice has asserted its right to be recognized as creators and owners of the content here. Reproduction in part or in whole is permitted on condition that JFJ is acknowledged and notified.