Ongwen Trial: Prosecution Pins Ongwen on Brutal Sexual ‘Crimes’ Against Girls

Former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen walks into Trial Chamber IX at the International Criminal Court in the Hague for trial hearing on Tuesday

HAGUE: Prosecution in the Dominic Ongwen case has presented more implicating evidence relating to sexual crimes that the former LRA commander allegedly committed against innocent civilians.

On the second day of trial, story Prosecution held that LRA fighters under Ongwen’s command, pharmacy abducted women and young girls were regarded as property which inflicted social stigma and physical pain.

In her account presented by the prosecution, check one of the witnesses (identified as 0226) testified to having been abducted at the age of 10 by the rebels, forced to walk for a month and witnessing an exhausted captive (young girl) flogged to death for failing to walk.

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The witness says she was later taken to Ongwen’s home who later summoned her for sex.

“When [she] refused to have sex with the accused, he ordered his juniors to beat her as he (Ongwen) watched. She was beaten continuously for a week until she conceded,” Benjamin Gumpert the Senior Trial Lawyer told court.

“She further testified to having heard Ongwen brag to other LRA fighters about raping her. On other occasions, she was beaten for giving food leftovers to another captive and Ongwen suspecting that she harbored love for another LRA fighter,” Prosecution added.

Gumpert later read to court evidence from 7 other under aged witnesses who ‘forcefully’ served as wives to Ongwen and were subjected to enslavement, sexual slavery, rape, acts of murder among others.

An expert in DNA kinship analysis, Prosecution said proved that there was an overwhelming probability (99%) that Ongwen fathered the witnesses’ children and that sexual intercourse was without consent.

Of the 70 charges that Dominic Ongwen was charged with on Monday, 60 are sexual related. This is the first time ICC handles a case with vast sexual crimes including ‘forced marriage’ which according to the Rome Statute isn’t a crime.

In Tuesday’s proceedings, Prosecution also preempted the grounds of ‘acting under duress’ which the defense intends to raise in their opening statements saying “duress is not a blanket covering all the crimes committed by the accused”.

“He (Ongwen) should identify which specific crime took place under the threat of death or mental illness. He must also demonstrate that there was no other way of avoiding the threat other than committing the crime,” Senior Trial lawyer submitted.

Counsel representing the over 4,000 victims that are participating in the trial also delved into the socioeconomic impact that the insurgency caused to individuals and families in Northern Uganda.

They argued that the IDP camps in Pajule, Odek, Lukodi and Abok in which many of the victims stayed were a creation of the LRA.

“This new way of life deprived them (victims) of the tranquility, peace, livelihood, food and for the children, education. The war inflicted physical harm, psychological torture, violence on women and social stigma,” Joseph Akwenyu Manoba, legal representative of victims told court.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt adjourned court to January 16 2017 when the Prosecution will begin to present its case and call witnesses before the judges. Hearing will then resume from February 27 for five weeks before another break.


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