By Susan Kendi
On Monday afternoon, January 22, 2018, after the prosecution wound up questioning Witness P-200, one of Dominic Ongwen’s began to cross examine him.
The witness told the three judges in Ongwen’s trial that he was unwilling to share information about his abduction with any other organ apart from the ICC since he did not trust the courts in Uganda since they are corrupt and justice does not always prevail.
Witness P-200 also added that he did not share information with any other organ because of fears for his safety as he did not want to be exposed after what happened to him while in the bush.
Here are excerpts of the cross-examination of Witness P-200 by Abigail Bridgman:
Bridgman: Since you returned home you have been a leader in your community. Is that true?
Witness: At the moment, yes.
Bridgman: You have received training in human rights, is that true?
Witness: I forgot.
Bridgman: Do you recall receiving training on human rights in 2008 from Uganda Human Rights Commission?
Witness: I forgot. I respond to what I remember now.
Bridgman: (Referencing a document) Do you recognise that document? Does it refresh your mind on the training that you received?
Witness: Yes, I attended.
Bridgman: So you don’t remember what you learnt in the training or?
Witness: Yes, I don’t remember
Bridgman: Do you remember anyone you attended the meeting with?
Witness: What I would say, it is that it was district leadership since by then I was a local council [member].
Bridgman: So you attended this training in your official capacity as a leader?
Witness: Yes, that is what I remember now.
Bridgman: Do you remember being told about the people indicted by the ICC?
Witness: In fact, I have forgotten.
Bridgman: When you attended that training, was that the first time you heard about the ICC?
Bridgman: Apart from that training, is there any other workshop or outreach program that you have attended regarding the ICC?
Witness: It is when I met the investigators in Kampala.
Bridgman: (Referencing to the prosecutor’s binder-interview) The investigators asked you about your understanding of the ICC, and you said that you were willing to share your information and “that is why I am open to give my view to ICC if it is another organ I would not give any information.” Tell us why you were willing to share your information with ICC and not with another organ?
Witness: First, I do not have trust in our courts in my country. Two, insecurity: since what happened to myself was enough, so I did not want any exposure.
Bridgman: Regarding the trust in the courts in Uganda, do you have an experience?
Witness: In my opinion, not actual experience, but what I hear on the radio and [read in the] papers is that there is a bit corruption in our country and justice does not prevail properly in form of a fair hearing.
Bridgman: Did you receive training on national level in Chakwanzi?
Bridgman: Did the ICC take part in your training?
Witness: Not actually since in Chakwanzi, we were taken as political leaders for about one month then taken back to our counties.
Bridgman: This morning you talked about your escape, how you were taken to different hospitals until Mulago when you were discharged and spent your time with family. Do you remember how long you were at Mulago Hospital?
Witness: I do not remember the period I was in Mulago, since I was still traumatized but I was in Mulago Hospital.
Bridgman: After your discharge from the hospital did you ever attend a rehabilitation programme?
Witness: Can you help me, put it simpler?
Bridgman: You mentioned going to World Vision. Did you know what the World Vision did to people who were abducted?
Bridgman: I am speaking about such a programme.
Bridgman: Was that done at World Vision or at another place?
Witness: Before I went to Mulago, we were at World Vision but when I came back, FIDA (International Federation of Women Lawyers) did that part.
Bridgman: Were you at home or some form of boarding school?
Witness: It was at home not a boarding school because I was home (laughs) .You operate from home. They organize a particular place.
Bridgman: Share with us the kind of assistance FIDA gave you whenever you went?
Witness: First they helped us with counselling and ways of uniting with the communities since when we came back they called us “rebels of Kony”, “rebels of LRA.” When they came with their counsellors they taught us ethics of living with community and how to involve them. If they (FIDA) choose a topic like agriculture they would give you seeds, plots.
Bridgman: (Showing the witness a document)Where did you receive this document, Mr Witness?
Witness: I received it from Soroti when they trained us on trauma.
Bridgman: Was this part of the FIDA program or another program?
Witness: This was under Pilgrim.
Bridgman: So this is another different program you attended on trauma and counselling?
Bridgman: Is it true that you have been involved in welcoming other abductees back home?
Witness: Yes. These small ones knew me so it was easier to cope with me.
Bridgman: Going back to the trust in Uganda courts, is it true that you have had some criminal legal trouble in the past four years?
Witness: Repeat. I don’t understand.
Bridgman: Your Honour, I am thinking about going into private session because I don’t know how to formulate this.
Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt: I think that we should go into private session.(The court resumes session with Abigail Bridgman questioning the witness)
Bridgman: Before your abduction, did you ever hear rumours about the LRA attack?
Bridgman: Did you ever hear about a letter from Tabuley telling civilians that he is going to attack?
Witness: No, I don’t remember it has taken years.
The witness continued testifying on Tuesday, January 23, 2017.