LRA trials: is justice being done in Ongwen and Kwoyelo cases?

19 January 2017 by Stephanie van den Berg

This week the trial of Dominic Ongwen [IJT-196] resumed in The Hague with the first witnesses testifying before the ICC. So far it is the prosecution setting up its case with expert witnesses on Ugandan history and the emergence of the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA) and army officials on how the radio intercepts of LRA communication worked.

IJT spoke with Ledio Cakaj, a researcher who has spent the last eight years interviewing hundreds of former LRA members, fighters, abductees and abductees-turned-fighters like Ongwen to understand how the LRA functions. He is also the author of the book “When the Walking Defeats You: One man's journey as Joseph Kony's bodyguard” which came out late last year. We asked Cakaj his views on the Ongwen case and the upcoming trial of Thomas Kwoyelo [IJT-192], another former LRA commander, in Uganda itself. Are these trials justice being done or were Kwoyelo and Ongwen just convenient defendants?

 

 

People watching the opening of Dominic Ongwen's trial in Lukodi, the site of the largest single massacre by the LRA which features in the charges against Ongwen (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
Image caption: 
People watching the opening of Dominic Ongwen's trial in Lukodi, the site of the largest single massacre by the LRA which features in the charges against Ongwen (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)

How do you see the ICC case against Ongwen?

Ledio Cakaj (LC): I am not critical of the ICC per se but I do have concerns about this particular case. Had (LRA leader Joseph) Kony been on trial, had (Kony's second-in-command Vincent) Otti been on trial, I would have no reservations that that would have been the right thing to do. With Ongwen it is hard not to feel conflicted.

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