The Office of the Prosecutor, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) says recordings of intercepts of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) communications are some of my the key evidences used to pin ex-commander Dominic Ongwen.
Ongwen, the former Commander of the LRA Sinia Brigade faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between 2002 and 2005.
He is accused of personally masterminding attacks on civilians in Abok, Odek, Pajule and Lukodi camps for internally displaced persons. The prosecution relied upon 160 witnesses including spiritualists, ex-LRA, Uganda Peoples Defense Forces among others. Defense meanwhile has so far seen 51 of the 69 witnesses.
Now officials from the Office of the prosecutor say that they presented very credible evidence to pin Dominic Ongwen, although the final decision on the judgment is with the judges.
Speaking at a press conference at Hotel Africana, Beti Hohler, the Associate trial Lawyer at the ICC says although they have several evidences against Ongwen, the direct testimony of seven of the forced wives of Dominic Ongwen, and the Radio intercepts stand out.
Hohler says in the recordings, Dominic Ongwen is heard being questioned by LRA commander Joseph Kony on whether he was responsible for an attack, which he responded to in the affirmative. He says this was a strong evidence that Ongwen acted on his own behalf, without orders.
Hohler also says the testimonies from Ongwens forced wives stand out as key pieces of evidence. She says the testimonies are not ordinary as it goes beyond only the description of what happened.
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Meanwhile, Dahirou Sant-Anna, the International Cooperation Adviser in the office of the prosecutor says they have countered the claim by defence that Ongwen was mentally ill at the time of committing the atrocities.
He also says contrary to views that Ongwen was under duress while in the LRA ranking and the crimes that he committed was as a result of that, several witnesses have come out saying in several occasions people have not complied with Kony's directive.
Dahirou says that however, it will be upon the judges to consider the fact that Ongwen was abducted at a young age, and thus reduce the charges if they so wish.
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Maria Mabynti Kamara, says as a way of making the process significantly, there are 25 screening programs in northern Uganda to involve the citizens, but also through radios.
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Dominic Ongwen’s trial is likely to end next year, with the presentation of evidence to be concluded by December this year.
Judge Bertram Schmitt, the Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber IX of the ICC issued an order setting the closing statements in the case of Ongwen to commence in the ICC courtroom on 10 March 2020. The closing briefs, in this case, shall be filed by 26 February 2020.