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Ongwen trial to resume on 27 February

8 February 2017 - 10:02

After three weeks of testimony from prosecution witnesses, the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court is taking a break.

On the final three days, judges in the case heard the conclusion of the testimony by Witness P-059, an operative with the Internal Security Organisation, as well as the introduction of a new witness.

Witness P-059, who started testifying last Friday, was asked about who was superior between Ongwen and Ocen Laboingo, another member of the unit Ongwen belonged to.

“In the LRA, Dominic [Ongwen] was superior to Laboingo, but the way LRA operates was different. You find that a senior commander could be a colonel, but the lieutenant colonel [a lower rank] could be superior,” Witness P-059 told the court.

An area of questioning Odongo explored was whether there were LRA members who Kony had watched closely and the reasons for this. Odongo asked the witness to answer keeping in mind what the witness had learned from people who had escaped the LRA that the witness had met.

(Source: IJ Monitor)

Introduced later in the day on Wednesday, 1 February, prosecution witness P-440, was the second person who claimed to be an LRA radio operator in the trial.

On Wednesday, senior trial lawyer Benjamin Gumpert asked Witness P-440 about the general orders Kony gave to all his commanders concerning abductions.

“I don’t quite remember but since I was working on the radio sometimes he would order for abductions,” the witness said.

Gumpert then asked him whether Kony issued any other orders relating to abductions. The witness said he could not remember, but he could answer the question if he is reminded. It later emerged in court that Witness P-440 was interviewed by the Office of the Prosecutor 13 years ago.

(Source: IJ Monitor)

The following day Ongwen’s lawyer, Chief Charles Taku, asked the witness about his perceptions of Joseph Kony.

“Can you tell the court on the basis of the audio you listened to today, what sort of a leader Kony was?” asked Taku, referring to several audio recordings that the prosecution had played for the witness earlier in the day.

“Well, my understanding is, it is very difficult for me to explain Joseph Kony’s leadership because in the bush Kony maintained that he’s possessed by spirits,” answered Witness P-440.

“Was Mr. Kony a very harsh commander who enforced discipline on members of the LRA? He expected to be obeyed, failure to which sanctions will be involved. Was he that type of a leader?” asked Taku.

“From my point of view, at times he was extremely strict, and at times he was extremely kind. It depends. Sometimes he speaks like a possessed person. Sometimes he speaks like a normal person,” the witness said.

On Friday, 3 February, continuing with his cross-examination of Witness P-440, Taku asked him how Joseph Kony would prevent people from leaving the rebel group.

“While you were still in the LRA, Joseph Kony used the threat of ICC prosecution to scare the commanders from defection. Is that correct, sir?” asked Taku.

“Yes, that is correct,” answered Witness P-440.

“Nevertheless, you were encouraged by the message and the promise of amnesty over Mega FM to defect. Is that correct?” continued Taku.

“That one is correct,” said the witness.

“At some point in time, sir, Joseph Kony banned the LRA combatants from listening to Mega FM. Is that correct, sir?” Taku asked.

“That happened,” the witness replied.

“And the reason he placed that ban was to dissuade LRA combatants from listening to that call to defect in exchange for amnesty. Would I be correct to say so?” said Taku.

“Yes that would be correct,” Witness P-440 replied.

At the conclusion of this hearing, Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt announced that the proceedings would continue on 27 February.

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