Special Reports

LRA WAR: Why Kony Attacked His Place of Birth

The trial of Dominic Ongwen continued on Wednesday, 31 January 2018, with the first day of the testimony of the 60th Prosecution witness, Witness P-0410.

The witness testified with protective measures of face distortion, the use of a pseudonym and limited recourse to private sessions.

Examination-in-Chief of Witness P-0410 by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP)

Answering questions posed by OTP Trial Lawyer, Coleen Gilg, the witness testified about his abduction and life in the LRA, the Odek and Lukodi attack and, finally, about his escape.

Regarding his abduction, the witness stated that he was born in 1989 and he was abducted in 2002; while coming home from school together with other 10 children.

The witness recounted that they were “all bound and moved forward to where other abductees were”, which included his mother.

According to his testimony, his school bag was thrown away and he was given yellow beans to carry as the convoy of rebels and abducted civilians moved towards “Loya Ajonga”.

He said that the elderly people were released to go back to the village only after they witnessed the abducted people –including the witness- being whipped by the rebels.

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The witness said that the rebels took him and other abducted civilians towards Soroti. He later learnt that the individuals that abducted him were called “Ocheng” and “Okello Komakech”.

Regarding “Ocheng” the witness said that he was the most senior commander in his group and was the leader that ordered the elderly be released.

The witness also said that, during an assembly, “Okello Komakech” said that his commander was Odomi. The witness also said that while in the bush he received some training such as parading, assembling and dissembling a gun, how to set up an ambush, how to go for attack, different ways and tactics to avoid attacks among other things.

The training lasted between 2-3 weeks and it was given by “Okello Komakech”. In this training there were young people, with the youngest being 12 years, the witness added.

The witness narrated his journey as he moved from Soroti to Sudan with the LRA convoy, saying that some of his roles were “to collect food and [to] continue working as an escort”.

When asked what Kony said while they were in Sudan, the witness said that during an assembly, among other things, Kony said “…Odek was to be attacked to be used as an example because the people didn’t like the rebels. So we came back to Uganda and that’s when we came and attacked Odek as the first place when we returned to Uganda.”

He also confirmed that Odek is the “birth place of Kony”.

Regarding attacks in Odek, the witness said that, before the attack, there was a big assembly whereby LRA commanders such as “Vincent Otti”, “Dominic Ongwen”, “Komakech” and “Okwei” told the soldiers that there was going to be “a big operation”.

At this assembly, the LRA commanders introduced themselves and that is how he knew their names. Regarding the name of the accused, the witness said that “When we were in the bush we referred to him as Odomi and later I learnt in the assembly that he was Dominic. I knew him as Odomi. They referred to him as Odomi while in the bush”.

The witness heard the accused and other commanders say “The mission in Odek should be to exterminate even ants and flies and everything in front of us should be shot and killed”.

According to the witness, the LRA commanders also said that “Lakwena” would protect them. After the assembly all the soldiers went back to their respective groups and were selected to go either to the barracks or to the camps in Odek.

The witness said he was selected to go to the barracks and that, before all the soldiers left, they were smeared as prayers were said.

At Odek, the witness said that, they were ordered to wait for instructions; some soldiers were to go to the barracks while others were to go to the camps to collect food and other items. The witness described

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