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Ongwen’s lawyer cites intimidation of witnesses

FILE PHOTO: Dominic Ongwen in ICC

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Some of the witnesses who testified in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander in the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA have complained of intimidation while others are too scared to testify, according to the defense team.

Ongwen’s lead lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo told the International Criminal Court on Tuesday that the defense team had been threatened.

Ayena, who didn’t specify the nature of the threats, said the threats and intimidation are the work of individuals he didn’t name.

He spoke out about the threats and intimidation when he made 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 the recess, which ran from July 19 to Sunday last week.

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 canceled at the request of the defense 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 defense.

Among the witnesses are former Local Defense Unit – LDUs personnel, witchdoctors and traditionalists and 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 6th 2016 but he was formally charged in February 2017.

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