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Detention of Ongwen lead lawyer will not affect trial-ICC

FILE PHOTO: Ongwen on trial in the Hague before ICC.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The detention of the lead lawyer of Dominic Ongwen, the former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) standing trial at the International Criminal Court is insignificant to the progress of the trial.

Krispus Ayena Odongo, the lead lawyer in the defence team representing Dominic Ongwen was arrested and jailed in Lira district over a civil suit arising from 2016 election disputes with Retired Colonel Charles Okello Engola, the State Minister for Defense and General Duties.

Engola is demanding Ayena a debt of 146 million shillings in court awards after he lost an election petition against the Minister following the disputed 2016 Parliamentary elections in Oyam North Constituency.

Ayena contested to retain the seat but lost to Engola whom he later dragged to Lira High Court challenging Okello’s academic qualification. He lost the matter and was ordered to pay Engola shillings 146 Million.

He was arrested on Thursday last week from Kampala by a group of Court Bailiffs from Spearlink Bailiffs and Auctioneers for failing to settle the debt on directions of Lira High Court.

Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Field Outreach Officer in Uganda says Ayena’s arrest is inconsequential to the trial of his client on account that other competent lawyers making up the defence team are handling the matter.

She denies that the trial of Dominic Ongwen has been adjourned following the arrest of his lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo.

“There has been no official communication from the defence as to whether the arrest, which has not been communicated formally, by the way, has affected the progress of their case” she stated adding that the trial was adjourned on Monday for judicial recess.

The recess will end next month. So far, 39 of the 72 witnesses the defence plan to call have testified in for Dominic Ongwen. Other lawyers in Dominic Ongwen include Cameroonian born Chief Charles Achaleke Taku, Thomas Obhof and Lyons Beth among others. Ongwen faces up to 70 cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from his roles in the Lord’s Resistance Army between 2002 and 2005. He is accused of personally masterminding attacks on civilians in Abok, Odek, Pajule and Lukodi camps for internally displaced persons. He denied all the charges.



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