Ongwen Trial: Prosecution Presents First Witness

Prof. Tim Allen of London School of Economics makes his presentation as prosecution witness during Monday's proceedings in the Hague.
The trial of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen has Monday resumed at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Prosecution began making its case and presenting the evidence from witnesses after a month long break since the hearing commenced in December last year.
Ongwen, pilule 41, a former child abductee turned LRA fighter is facing up to 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the ICC for atrocities committed by the rebel outfit in Northern Uganda.
In 2003 and 2004, hundreds of people including civilians were allegedly killed by LRA fighters under Ongwen’s command in IDP camps of Pajule, Abok, Odek and Lukodi.
Presided by Judge Bertram Schmitt in the Trial Chamber 9 of the ICC, prosecution on Monday adduced evidence from its first witness, Tim Allen a Professor at London School of Economics. Allen lived in Uganda doing researcg during the 1980s when the LRA was springing up.
In his presentation, he gave an account of the precolonial and post colonial history of Uganda but also explained the spiritual forces that played into the LRA conflict.
Examined by James Stewart the deputy prosecutor, Prof. Allen who told court that the Lords Resistance Army was a making of an earlier resistance named The Holy Spirit Movement led by Auma Alice Lakwena, whose struggle was later subdued by the National Resistace Army.
“Lakwena later fled to Kenya where she later died. Most people believed the resistance would end but to their later disappointment,” Prof. Allen told court.
“There were other spiritual mediums operating in Northern Uganda which relied on ancestral shrines called ‘Ajwaka’. Joseph Kony (relative to Lakwena) had at a tender age been brought up in this spiritual orientation.”
Kony used spiritualism to insert fear into the junior recruits which prevented them from escaping and maintained a sense of discipline and subordination.
“A lot of his (Kony) juniors feared his unpredictability. Sometimes he would be friendly and understanding but later on he would start to speak strangely.”
Monday’s hearing also brought to light the role of the army veterans in the militaristic approach that was later employed by Kony in the 1980s. Unlike Lakwena, Kony’s militia ran small military units and adopted conventional guerilla tactics.
Allen said; “Odong Latek and Otti Lagoni, veterans from Tito Okello’s army who had been defeated in Luweero were of significamt influence to Kony until the early 1990s.”
By killing many people and other of their devastating impact, Kony and his LRA fighters were able to pass on their message to the wider population and government, the witness submitted.
In his evidence, Allen presented the impact of the conflict as having been negative to the social aspect of people in Northern Uganda including stigmatizing of the returnees.
Dominic Ongwen clad in a grey suit, sat in the court room listening to the proceedings through headphones.
The trial continues on Tuesday as Prof. Allen takes stand again for further questioning.


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