THE HAGUE. The wife and two children of Dominic Ongwen are due to visit him in the Hague, Netherlands, after the former Lord’s Resistances Army (LRA) rebel commander, who is being tried on 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, insisted it was his right to have family visits.
Ongwens’s lead lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo told Daily Monitor at the Hague last evening that the International Criminal Court (ICC) accepted the request and at least three family members are expected, for the first time, to visit him in the New Year.
“By January 2017, all the paper work would be completed for their travel; it will be a lady and two children,” Mr Odongo said, quoting Ongwen’s preferences.
From the rough life as a rebel commander where force was the currency to issue and execute orders or get anything done, Ongwen now finds himself in prison far away from home and with no one speaking his native Acholi language but where a soft touch runs the washing machine to do laundry, lights the bulb and opens the door.
Only diplomats offering consular services or persons specifically asked for by Ongwen can visit him at the high-security facility.
The trappings of Ongwen’s cell may make him live a life seemingly better than most average Ugandans. But there is a depressing downside, said Charles Taku, another of his lawyers.
“It’s a cultural shock, living in a different world where he cannot speak his native language. Ongwen unfortunately has only known two words; in LRA captivity and now prison,” said Taku, a Cameroonian national.
He said Ongwen was abducted at nine years, grew up in LRA leader Joseph Kony’s household, was sent to battlefronts as a child and now restraining him in jail means he has had no opportunity to live a normal life, practice his culture or speak his language.