Lawyer: Ongwen will plead not guilty

Like Dominic Ongwen's defence team outside of the ICC
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 16:20

By Sophie van Leeuwen

Dominic Ongwen will plead not guilty at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Justice Hub spoke to Krispis Ayena Odongo, lawyer of the alleged LRA commander and ex-child soldier after today’s status conference.

Q: How is Ongwen doing? 

He seems to be comfortable. He’s a happy man. He talks to friends in prison about his case. It’s a peculiar one because he was arrested at the age of ten. People tell him he was not liable until eighteen. When we meet him, he tells us about these things. Ongwen is emphasising that he’s not responsible for most of the things he has been accused of. 

Q: Today, the ICC prosecutor did not present new charges against Ongwen. Why not?

In court, one party or the other uses ambush tactics and applies for extensions. That is what Judge Tarfusser was trying to prevent - he was very clear on the timeline.

Q: The prosecutor has until 21 September to investigate. Will she make it?

The prosecutor still has to investigate. The question is whether there is sufficient evidence to prove new charges beyond reasonable doubt. If they are serious about the things they’re talking about, they should have mapped out the areas of investigation.

Q: What do you expect from new charges?

The prosecutor seems to be suggesting that Dominic took part in the Pajule attack, which involved the death of civilians, the burning of houses, abductions, and injuries. The second area seems to be agenda-based violence like sexual crimes and abduction. 

We are happy Judge Tarfusser mentioned the Pajule attack in court. Before we were constantly guessing. Now we may begin to speculate about OTP investigations in Pajule. We can go to Pajule and find out what happened there. There could be victims and potential witnesses. 

Q: How hard is it to investigate on the ground, ten years after the first investigations?

It’s extremely hard. 

Q: Will Ongwen plead guilty or not?

He’s definitely going to plead not guilty. He allegedly committed crimes at the Ugandan IDP camp of Lukodi, like murder and enslavement. According to him, he was not there. When he learnt about the arrest warrant, his eyes got huge. 'I did not do that. I did not say that', he said. 

He was in complete shock and disbelief. And he’s even more shocked about Pajule. 

Lead image: Ongwen's defence team, lawyer Krispis Ayena Odongo and his assistant Thomas Obhof in front of the ICC in the Hague (Photo: Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)


As far as all that is concerned. there places that are not mentioned in teso region that we lost our dear'ones! if ongwen is left and yet we a in pain it's only God to answer our prayers and not the "ICC". and Musa Ecueru, Mike Mukula And all itesot were like the acholi who are trying to blindfold the "ICC" Uganda would now be like SOMALIA, in my view ongwen new what he was doing.we had p'ple who were abducted and found their ways buck home who was he?

Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 06:39

personally i have been to Lukodi massacre site and its clear that the community do not wish to open an old wound of 11 years. Otherwise Ugandan government may have to answer the hard asked question by the community , 'why it failed to protect them.'

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 23:04

Ogwen is not to blame,coz the age at which he was abducted makes him a minor and what ever he ended up doing was out of trauma and manipulation of a child.the blame should be directed to those who captured and brain washed him.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 18:20

Now that Ongwen and other LRA commanders are being accused of the atrocities in east n northern uganda can govt also bring to book all the UPDF commanders who were in these regions at the time to speak for themselves abt what transpired then

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 15:02

Much as Dominic Ongwen was abducted at a tender age, why didn't he come out the time the govt of Uganda declared amnesty for all, there are some of us who are victims of the circumstance, we are left homeless, losing all the relatives in their hands, the pain cant go away, it haunts us to-date; will only feel joy if Ongwen is paid the same he did to the people of Northern Uganda!! I wish the all world would understand the pain The northern Uganda got in the hands of Ongwen, then he wouldn't be given that time of pleading guilty at whatsoever!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 14:21

In war both sides are resposible, If true the atrocities in northern uganda were done by the LRA where was UPDF in all these? Are they trying to say that LRA was so powerful that they couldnt face them or they actually had alot to do with the masacres just to blame it on the LRA. Not forgetting that northern uganda was a condemned region.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 14:11
Otim Patrick

Yesterday, I documented the commemoration of the Lukodi massacre where 54 victims were murdered and the clear message was that what happened can't be reversed and trying to think about it only hurts more. Why not deal with frameworks that will ensure non- repetition of such? I am sure going on the ground 11 years after will only be met with rude reactions from the community because they were not protected by the authority that be. Of what help will this be to the community? Do they understand your justice or they have their own?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 07:38

Dominic Ongwen Has To Accuse Govt Of Failing To Secure Him By The Time He Was Abducted.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 07:22
Niklas Jakobsson
Niklas Jakobsson

Yes, he sat at the back and listened through the whole session. Judge made sure the counsels spoke slowly in order to make the translation to Acholi as easy as possible for the translators.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 17:56

Thanks for this exclusive and nice photo. Was Ongwen in court?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 - 16:47