By Susan Kendi
Witness P-200, who is testifying in the ongoing Dominic Ongwen trial, told the Trial Chamber IX of the ICC that he served under the command of Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen who assigned him some roles.
The witness is testifying under court protective measures which include face pixilation, voice distortion, being referred by a pseudonym and has been allocated a lawyer to help him avoid incriminating himself.
On Monday, January 22, 2018, prosecutor Beti Hohler asked Witness P-200 to tell the Court of some of the duties he performed while in the LRA. Here are excerpts from their exchange:
Hohler: What was your role, Mr Witness?
Witness: One was to carry luggage, two, to carry logs to make fire and to dig what we call ‘adaki’.
Hohler: Can you explain to us what this means?
Witness: ‘Adaki’ is that hole where a soldier sleeps. My role was also to dig a pit for the commander to defecate. And the other one, you eat when sitting on a dead body.
Hohler: Did this happen several times, or once?
Witness: It was a normal happening that I remember.
Hohler: Who gave you instructions to perform these tasks, Mr Witness?
Witness: Dominic Ongwen.
Hohler: And when you were in the bush, in your group, did you see newly abducted people joining?
Witness: That was a continuous happening.
Hohler: Could you give us a specific example of what location and ages you saw people being abducted?
Witness: The one I know was Teso sub-region in Rwara girls.
Hohler: What was the gender of those abducted? Boys or girls?
Witness: For Rwara, they were just girls.
Hohler: What was your age estimation?
Witness: Most were below 18 years.
Hohler: How old were the boys and girls that the LRA abducted?
Witness: If I could remember it was from 12, 13 years. Below 18 years.
Hohler: Why did they target these ages?
Witness: What I suggest, is that younger people easily cope with the environment and forget home unlike us big people; we have had children and we think about our families.
Hohler: You said girls were abducted. Were there women in your group?
Hohler: What was the role of women in your group?
Witness: Their role was to cook and be wives of their commanders.
Hohler: How did women become wives of their commanders? Who decided they should be the wives of specific commanders?
Witness: It was Joseph Kony. When we went with girls and got to Adilang, Kony distributed the girls to the commanders.
Hohler: Was it just Joseph Kony who distributed girls?
Witness: That is what I saw.
Hohler: Who had wives in your group, Mr Witness?
Witness: Dominic Ongwen had wives.
Hohler: Anyone else?
Witness: I do not remember.
Hohler: How many wives did he have?
Witness: I remember he was given five wives.
Hohler: Do you remember their names?
Witness: One was Akello Sarah.
Hohler: Any other?
Witness: I do not remember.
Hohler: Could girls and women refuse to become wives?
Witness: That is impossible since there is a lot of human violations there.
Hohler: What would happen if a girl refused?
Witness: You die.
Hohler: Did you ever see a girl who refused to be a wife die or punished?
Witness: I do not remember now.
Hohler: Were Dominic Ongwen’s wives guarded in the bush or they could leave?
Witness: No, they could not leave.
Hohler: Were you, Mr Witness, trained?
Witness: I don’t remember.
Hohler: Mr Witness, you told us in the morning that you were twice lined up to be killed and then the killing was stopped before your turn came. I want to ask you who stopped the killing?
Witness: Dominic Ongwen.
Hohler: Did he say why he stopped the killing?
Witness: I don’t remember, but I suggest it is because I was big enough to carry his food.
Hohler: Is that the only reason why he would stop the killing?
Witness: And maybe, I suggest, when we met with Joseph Kony in Adilang, Kony instructed Dominic Ongwen to keep me well.
Hohler: Did you hear Kony say that to Dominic Ongwen?
Hohler: And why do you think Kony said that to Dominic Ongwen? That he should keep you well?
Witness: Yes, because I had knowledge of the medicine.
Hohler: You also told us that Ongwen ordered the killing of a police officer. Do you know where he was abducted from?
Witness: He was abducted from Tubur.
Hohler: Thank you, Mr Witness. Now you told us you were abducted on June 23, 2003, do you remember the date you escaped?
Hohler: Please tell us.
Witness: It was on March 24, 2004
Hohler: Now I want to show you two documents. It is a confidential document not to be displayed to the public. (Showing the document to the witness) What is this document, Mr Witness?
Witness: This is a reunion letter given to me to reunite with my family members.
Hohler: And the photograph on the top right corner, who is that?
Witness: That is my photograph.
Hohler: If you turn to the next tab on the binder. This is also a confidential document. (Showing the document to the witness) What document is this, Mr Witness?
Witness: This is a mourning document
Hohler: Who does it belong to?
Hohler: Whose picture is that?
Hohler: Thank you, Mr Witness
(Judge Bertram Schmitt requests the victims’ lawyers to take the floor. One of the victims’ lawyers, Orchlon Narantsetseg, stands up)
Narantsetseg: We decided not to question since the events may traumatize the witness.
Judge Bertram Schmitt: Now it is the turn of the defence.
(Defence lawyers Abigail Bridgman stands up)
Abigail: It is okay if we can start tomorrow but it depends on the witness.
Judge Schmitt: Mr Witness, I believe you have heard the exchange between me and the Defence. Are you okay to continue in the afternoon or can we go on tomorrow? I can see you nodding your head and I think you are okay with that.
Abigail: Regarding the display of emotions. We have two and a half hours to reformulate the questions.
The hearing continues with the defence cross examining Witness P-200.