Ongwen Defence Team Faces Setback As Witness dies

Dominic Ongwen’s defence says they have lost one of their witnesses

The defence lawyers of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel Commander Dominic Ongwen has revealed that one of their witnesses has died.

Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s lawyers told the judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday that a third witness that had been scheduled to testify at The Hague last week had died two weeks ago.

Obhof however did not revealed the cause of death.

Obhof also informed court that one their defence witnesses, Witness D-108, who was scheduled to testify next, had informed the defense that he was working on securing school fees for his seven children. The lawyer said the witness had declined to travel preferring to first secure fees for his children.

Earlier, court also heard that, while Witness D-136 was until last week preparing to travel to The Hague to testify, due to unnamed political implications, the court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) withdrew his passport.

Trial lawyer Benjamin Gumpert expressed disappointment over the announcement and said they were keen to get on with the trial.

Dominic Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that occurred between July 2002 and December 2005. He has not pleaded guilty to all the counts.

At least 19 witnesses including two men who are believed to be LRA rebel leader, Joseph Kony’s sons have since testified at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague in defence of Ongwen.

Jimmy Otim, an Assistant Outreach Coordinator for ICC in Uganda said Ongwen’s defence lawyers have lined up 62 witnesses in defence of the former alleged LRA commander.