Ongwen ICC trial: Lawyer decries intimidation of witnesses

Wednesday August 14 2019

Mr Krispus Ayena Odongo

Mr Krispus Ayena Odongo  

By URN

Some of the witnesses who testified in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, one of the former commanders of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have complained of intimidation while others are too scared to testify, their lawyer has said.

Ongwen’s lead lawyer, Mr Krispus Ayena Odongo told the International Criminal Court on Tuesday that the defence team had been threatened.
Mr Ayena, who didn’t specify the nature of the threats, said the threats and intimidation are the work of individuals. However, he didn’t name the individuals.

He spoke out about the threats and intimidation while making a personal statement to the court about his arrest and release in Uganda last month.
On Tuesday, Trial Chamber IX resumed Ongwen’s trial following a recess, which ran from July 19 to Sunday last week.

Mr Nicholas Ocirowijok, who testified on July 4, was the last witness to testify before the court went on recess.

Hearings that were scheduled to take place on July 15 and July 16 were cancelled at the request of the defence team due to Ayena’s arrest the previous week.

He was arrested in July from Lira town for allegedly failing to pay a debt stemming from civil litigation over his 2016 parliamentary election petition.

Ongwen has up to 62 witnesses who will testify in his defence.
Among the witnesses are former Local Defence Unit personnel, witchdoctors and traditionalists, ex-LRA combatants, among others.
Ongwen is on trial for 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he is alleged to have committed as LRA commander between July 2002 and December 2005 in northern Uganda.

He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The trial began on December 6, 2016 but he was formally charged in February 2017.

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