ONGWEN TRIAL: Defense lawyer to cross-examine prosecution witness

ONGWEN TRIAL: Defense lawyer to cross-examine prosecution witness
Eazzy Banking

The trial of LRA warlord Dominic Ongwen, resumed yesterday at the ICC with the testimony of an expert, Prof. Tim Allen, the Director of Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa and Head of the department of International Development at the London School of Economics (LSE) and Political Science.

Legal representatives of the 4,109 victims; Paulina Massida and Franciso Cox examined the witness about the consequences of the LRA activities on victims. Prof. Allen highlighted the emotional traumas coupled with high mortality in IDP camps because of HIV and other diseases.

The defense counsel representing former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen will today cross-examine prosecution witness at The Hague based International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ongwen is being represented by 11 lawyers led by Crispus Ayena Odongo, the former legal advisor of the LRA during the failed Juba Peace negotiations of 2005/2007.

Prof. Allen, the first prosecution witness produced a report for the tribunal about the origins, purpose and objectives of the mystic rebel LRA in Northern Uganda until July 2002, and the effect it had on the civilian population.

Allen also showed in the courtroom two books he wrote: “Trial Justice, The International Criminal Court and the LRA” and “The Lord’s Resistance Army, myth and reality.”

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt heard the testimony against Ongwen, who faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During the pre-trial in December 2016, Ongwen, now 41, who was a child soldier turned militia commander pleaded not guilty and that as a former child soldier himself, he should be treated as a victim of the LRA, rather than a perpetrator.

He was abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, making him the first former child soldier to face trial at the world’s first criminal court and the first defendant to be both alleged perpetrator and victim of the same crimes.

The former commander of the Sinia Brigade is charged with crimes allegedly committed during attacks in Pajule IDP camp in October 2003, Odek IDP camp in April 2004, Lukodi IDP camp in May 2004, and Abok IDP camps in June 2004.

Other charges against him concern murder, attempted murder, torture, rape, and sexual slavery, the alleged conscription of children under the age of 15 into an armed group and, for the first time, “forced pregnancy and forced marriage”.

With the trial expected to last many years, Prosecutors said they might call up to 70 witnesses to testify against Ongwen who may face up to 30 years in prison or a life imprisonment if convicted.


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