ICC: Prosecution Downplays Ongwen Being ‘Victim’ of LRA Atrocities

The trial of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen has began Tuesday morning in the Hague Netherlands with the prosecution side down playing the question of Ongwen’s abduction into the rebel group and also being a victim to the crimes he perpetrated.
Fatou Bensouda, here the prosecutor in the case submitted that being victim was not justification enough for the accused to carry out similar crimes.
Ongwen had earlier denied understanding the charges brought against him saying the responsibility lied on Joseph Kony but Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt overruled this saying the accused in January had already told court he read and understood the charges.
Ongwen later pleaded not guilty to the 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity saying, what is ed “In the name of God, pharmacy I deny all the charges in respect to the war in Northern Uganda. I plead not guilty.”
The prosecutor said; “We recognize that Ongwen was not only a perpetrator of the crimes in question, but also a victim since he claims to have been abducted. This does not justify victimizing others.”
“This court will not decide [his] goodness or badness but rather whether he is responsible for the crimes he committed as an adult. He had opportunities to either surrender to the UPDF or escape (like many did) but he never did so.”
In her opening statement, she said prosecution had sufficient evidence linking the accused to atrocities such as attacking civilian camps and abducting children. Ongwen’s position as a high ranking commander in one of the 4 Brigades of the LRA was the core basis upon which Bensouda said [he] was responsible.
“We have accounts from victims of LRA attacks as well as sound recordings and radio communication which indicate that Ongwen ordered; ambushes on commercial vehicles, young children to kill and his involvement in attacks on camps in Pajule, Lukodi, Abok and Odek in which civilians were killed,” Bensouda said.
She said one of the witnesses testified to having witnesses Ongwen abduct children as young as 6 years from their families to become child soldiers and sex slaves. This, the prosecution said was a deliberate strategy by LRA rebels to sustain its war.
Prosecution also made reference to the systematic viewing of civilians as enemies by the LRA  fighters even when their main rival was the government. In one of the radio communication exchanges, Bensouda said the Ongwen bragged about having killed civilians in an attack.


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