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Ongwen pinned for attacks on Gulu camps

By Betty Amamukirori

Added 19th July 2017 07:18 AM

Ongwen is on trial for his alleged role in the attacks on the Abok and Odek IDP camps in 2004.

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Ongwen is on trial for his alleged role in the attacks on the Abok and Odek IDP camps in 2004.

PIC: Dominic Ongwen is alleged to have committed murder, enslavement, rape, pillaging and inflicted serious bodily harm on civilians. (AFP)

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Dominic Ongwen ordered the attacks on the Abok and Odek camps for internally displaced people (IDP) in order to loot food.

According to a report by the Open society Justice Initiative, while testifying on Friday, witness P-054 told court that the attacks were carried out by the Sinai brigade commanded by Ongwen after in order to restock their food supplies that had been exhausted.

Ongwen is on trial for his alleged role in the attacks on the Abok and Odek IDP camps in 2004.

He has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on two other IDP camps, namely Lukodi and Pajule. He faces a total of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The witness, who revealed to the court that he was also a member of the brigade, said that during the attack on Abok, they were overpowered by government soldiers and had to retreat.

“There were a number of soldiers in front and some of them were behind us. They started firing at us. Gunships also started firing at us,” Witness P-054 told the court.

When asked by trial lawyer Paul Bradfield whether there were children in the Sinai brigade and what their role was, the witness said that there were children, some as young as 10 years, who also took part in the attack on Odek. Their role was to carry the lot.

The witness also said that the older women were made wives of the commanders while the younger ones did domestic chores like cooking and fetching water. He revealed that during the attack on Odek, the girls including Ongwen’s wife, also took part in it.

according to Open Society Justice Initiative, it is likely Witness P-054 gave more details of the attacks on Abok and Odek in private session, which is when his testimony was not heard by the public. Significant parts of his testimony on Friday took place in private session.

The witness testified under in-court protective measures that include his face being distorted in public broadcasts to hide his identity from the public. The measures also include the court hearing in private session any part of his testimony that can identify him.

At the start of Friday’s hearing Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said the court had granted the witness assurances against self-incrimination, stating that it was in line with provisions of Rule 74 of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

The assurances included Witness P-054 not being pursued directly or indirectly for any actions he carried out and that he testified about that may fall under the court’s jurisdiction. Judge Schmitt said any self-incriminating testimony he gave would be in private session.

The witness also had a court appointed lawyer, Iain Edwards, to advise him on any self-incriminating testimony he gave.

According to the witness, he was abducted by the LRA’s Stockree brigade in 1992 when he was nine years old. He stayed with the brigade for a short while before being transferred to Control Altar, the LRA headquarters and later Sinai brigade. He escaped in 2005 having attained the rank of lieutenant.

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