The International Criminal Court (ICC) has nominated the Gulu Diocese Archbishop John Baptist Odama and Acholi paramount chief, Rwot David Onen Acana II, to lead a delegation of Acholi leaders to attend the December 6 opening trial of Dominic Ongwen trial at The Hague in Netherlands.
Ongwen, a former Lord’s Resistance Army rebel commander, is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Northern Uganda between 2002 and 2004. His trial is set to commence in two weeks before a panel of pre-trial chamber in January 2017.
Others are retired northern Uganda Diocese Bishop Nelson Onweng, Acholi Ker Kwaro premier Ambrose Ola, Mr Lino Owor Ogola, the founder of Foundation for Justice and Development Initiative and some victims from the affected communities.
ICC’s Field Outreach coordinator for Uganda and Kenya, Ms Maria Mabinty Kamara, told Daily Monitor last Thursday that the ICC, through support from the Danish Embassy, chose 10 influential representatives in the affected community to attend Ongwen’s opening trial. She said the move aims at building trust and confidence among the communities in northern Uganda, especially those affected, on the ICC judicial processes.
“These people will attend and follow the proceedings at The Hague so that they explain what they will have witnessed upon return. This will help build trust of the community in the ICC processes,” Ms Kamara said.
She said ICC has arranged comprehensive programmes for the leaders to meet with various organs of the court including judicial officers, prosecutor, and judges. She, however, ruled out the possibility of the leaders meeting Ongwen.
Asked why Ongwen’s family members have not been included on the list, Ms Kamara said it is the registrar of the ICC that grants requests regarding visiting the accused person.
Efforts to get comments from Bishop Odama were futile as his known phone number was unavailable by press time.