Sudan

15 Years Commanding Kony’s LRA: Ex-abductee Recounts Harrowing Transformation

The trial of Dominic Ongwen continued on Monday, 17 January 2018, with the second day of the testimony of the 55th Prosecution witness, Witness P-0145.

He was granted protective measures of face distortion, the use of a pseudonym and limited recourse to private sessions.

Mr Julius von Bóné, appointed lawyer to the witness for possible self-incriminating evidence, was also present in the courtroom.

During today’s testimony, Witness P-0250 testified about his abduction by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) rebels, LRA’s abductions of children, the attack at Lukodi, his escape from LRA and the spiritual leadership of Joseph Kony.

First questioned by OTP Trial Lawyer Yulia Nuzban, the witness was asked to provide the timeline of his stay in the LRA. The witness informed that he was abducted when he was a child in 1990 in Kitgum District, and escaped with the rank of “Captain” in 2005.

The witness testified about the role of the underage abductees within LRA confirming that those child abductees were forced to carry food, walk long distance and to lie behind the soldiers who had guns during the fighting.

Children from the ages of 8-14 years old were not equipped with guns. Witness P-0145 claimed that the youngest abductees he had seen was around 8-10 years old.

When asked about how he could estimate their ages, the witness replied that he could judge based on their physical sizes and their grades in school before they were abducted.

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Later on, the witness answered questions related to the Lukodi attack.

He first explained he witnessed “Odomi”(Dominic Ongwen)’s presence at the Gilva Brigade’s Sick Bay before the attack at Lukodi, during when “Odomi” mentioned his plan to attack UPDF soldiers at Lukodi.

The witness was requested to clarify Ongwen’s physical appearance features in order to confirm whether he did recognise the accused personally at that time.

In response to that, Witness P-0145 said that he knew Dominic Ongwen and they had “spent a long time in Sudan”.

With regard to his function during the Lukodi attack, the witness testified that he personally received orders from “Commander Tulu” to select people and collect food at Lukodi, but not to take part in the fighting.

According to the witness, he selected 3 persons from his household to go with him and they looted food from civilian’s houses which were “700 meters away from the gun fighting in the barracks”.

Witness P-0145 also stated that “Odomi”’s group started to kill civilians when UPDF soldiers started to run away.

The witness alleged that he heard about the information from two commanders who had joined the Lukodi Attack and came back to the sick bay after the attack, but had not personally seen the killing of civilians and dead bodies with his own eyes.

Then, the witness testified about his experience after his escape from the LRA.

When asked about why he went to Mega Radio after his escape, he indicated that he wanted to let people know “they could come back home and they will not be killed”.

He explained that LRA soldiers and abductees were able to listen to public radios, and the Mega FM was the most frequently-listened public radio channel. Concerning his speech on the radio, he confirmed that he spoke the words “from my heart, nothing was written down”.

Later, 5 audio excerpts of his speech on the radio were played during the proceedings, while the first one was confidential and not broadcasted to the public.

In the afternoon, the witness was challenged by the Defence Counsel Thomas Obhof.

During the questioning, Witness P-0145 once again emphasised that he had been forced to join the fights even when he was a child and without a weapon.

The witness also received questions about the spiritual leadership of Joseph Kony. He stated that Kony often told people that “he was possessed by the spirit”, many rituals and prayers were conducted within LRA to try to scare abductees from escaping to go home.

 

 

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