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121 Witnesses to Pin Dominic Ongwen in ICC Trial

Dahirou Sant-Anna, the ICC International Cooperation Adviser says seven of the witnesses were forced wives of Dominic Ongwen while others were drawn from contextual victims, expert witnesses, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF personnel and former LRA insiders.
Officials From The Office Of The Prosecutor of The International Criminal court Addressing Media at Northern Uganda Media Club in Gulu on Monday.

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Prosecution at the International Criminal Court-ICC has settled for 121 witnesses to pin former Lord's Resistance Army-LRA commander Dominic Ongwen.

Ongwen, 41, the alleged commander of the Sinia Brigade, is charged with 70 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual crimes. He is accused of masterminding atrocities in which hundreds of lives were lost in Lukodi, Odek and Pajule Internally Displaced People's camps.

Dahirou Sant-Anna, the ICC International Cooperation Adviser says seven of the witnesses were forced wives of Dominic Ongwen while others were drawn from contextual victims, expert witnesses, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces-UPDF personnel and former LRA insiders.

Sant-Anna says since the trial commenced last December, 24 witnesses have testified before judges of the Court. They include Prof. Tim Allen, an expert witness who has written multiple books on the LRA conflict, UPDF Radio operators who intercepted and recorded LRA communications and former LRA signalers amongst others.

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According to Sant-Anna, judges of the court have also admitted pre-recorded testimonies of 40 witnesses which will be introduced in the trial at a later date. Some 31 witnesses have been granted immunity from prosecution after they disclosed self-incriminating evidence before the court.

Paul Benjamin Bradfield, an assistant legal officer says they intend to rely on evidence of the witnesses to pin Dominic Ongwen for his role and responsibilities in attacks on Pajule, Lukodi, Odek and Abok in which collectively hundreds of people lost their lives.

Bradfield said two former LRA signalers and two UPDF radio operators correctly identified voices of Dominic Ongwen taking responsibility for the attacks using among others, a call sign he coined as "Tem Wek Ibong". This is a Luo phrase literally meaning "try so that you touch."

 

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According to Bradfield, Prof. Tim Allen, the first expert witness provided contextual background of the conflict including origins and formation.

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The two officials from the office of the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told Journalists in Gulu that Uganda government has also waived prosecution to former child soldiers who committed atrocities in the conflict while serving in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

Prosecution hopes 45 witnesses will have testified by the end of this year while 29 others have been lined up to testify in 2018.

According to Bradfield, just a third of the expected length of the trial of Dominic Ongwen has been covered.