Drunk Man sets hut ablaze, kills brother in law

Omoro Police are investigating circumstances under, which a 37- year- old man was burnt to death by his in law. The deceased has been identified as Walter Ojok, a resident of Abilo Nino village in Ongako Sub County in Omoro district.

Ojok met his death on Tuesday morning at the residence of Richard Okello, his brother in law in Pida Loro Village in Kal Parish. It is alleged that Okello set the hut in which, he was sleeping with the deceased ablaze at about 2am following a drinking spree in Ongako trading center.

It is still unclear why Okello torched the house killing his brother in law who is believed to have been drunk. Christopher Odora, the Speaker Ongako Sub County says that after the incident Ojok also threatened to kill his sister Agnes Ajok in the same way her husband had perished.

Ojok is currently being held at Ongako Sub County headquarters, some 12 Kilometers South East of Gulu town. In January this year, five family members were burnt inside their hut in neighboring Koch Goma Sub County in Nwoya district over a suspected a land wrangle.

Civil society actors say northern Uganda is still struggling to cope with trauma associated with the effects of two decades of brutal conflict waged by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.

 

 

 

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ICC disregards Ongwen’s traumatic childhood as they prepare for first trial

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court have acknowledged that Dominic Ongwen was abducted as child and conscripted into the ranks of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ranks.

The prosecutors led by Fatou Bensouda, however, told judges at The Hague-based court that this would not exonerate Ongwen from prosecution.

They argued that Ongwen, now in his 40s, rose through the LRA ranks and became one of the most senior commanders, a position he could have exploited to denounce rebellion.

“The evidence shows that Dominic Ongwen was a murderer and a rapist,” submitted Bensouda as Ongwen’s long awaited trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity started today.

The prosecutors said they have sufficient evidence, including voice recordings from radio communications, which implicate Ongwen for crimes he committed in four different internally displaced people’s camps in Gulu, Amuru and Oyam districts in Northern Uganda.

Prosecutors further say about 30 former abductees who were under Ongwen’s command are available to testify as witnesses to the court.   She said these represent large numbers of the civilian population that went through torture and suffering in the hands of Dominic Ongwen.

Earlier, Ongwen had pleaded not guilty to all the seventy counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, noting that it was LRA not Ongwen that committed the atrocities.To this, Bensouda noted that while Ongwen’s own traumatic past as a 14-year-old abductee could be a mitigating factor for judges considering a sentence if he is convicted, it cannot begin to amount to a defense or a reason not to hold him accountable for his decisions.

She said that the choice to embrace the murderous violence used by the LRA and make it a hallmark of the attacks carried out by his soldiers was entirely his.

The burden of proof, however, is on the ICC prosecutors to prove Ongwen’s involvement in all the 70 charges of crimes allegedly committed in the four case areas between 2002 and 2005.

Ongwen’s defense team is expected respond to the accusations in tomorrow’s session that will mark an end to the opening of the trial.

With Ongwen pleading not guilty, court will engage psychiatric experts to determine the mental soundness of the accused before deliberating further on his alleged criminal responsibilities as an individual within the LRA ranks

The ICC outreach office and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) set up several live-streaming points in in Lukodi, Pajule and Odek villages in Northern Uganda as well as in Kampala.

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ICC to ensure atmost protection to witnesses in Dominic Ongwen case

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reaffirmed that utmost protection will be granted to all witness in the trial against former warlord Dominic Ongwen that opens tomorrow in The Hague.

ICC Registrar Herman Von Hebel says they are working jointly with security authorities in Uganda to protect witnesses as soon as threats are detected and reported on their lives.

Over 4000 victims of the LRA-led rebellion in Northern Uganda have been granted status by the court to participate in the proceedings. However, it remains unclear how many of these will be called upon to testify against Ongwen.

Hebel told a press conference in Kampala this morning that ICC has put in place all risk assessment tools and necessary measures to ensure that witnesses are safe. This also includes moving witnesses away from the areas where they live and as a last resort, away from the country.

Dominic Ongwen, the former commander of the Sinia Brigade, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The confirmed charges concern crimes allegedly committed during attacks in Pajule IDP camp in October 2003, Odek IDP camp on April 2004, Lukodi IDP camp on May 2004, and Abok IDP camps in June 2004.

They also cover sexual and gender-based crimes directly and indirectly committed by Dominic Ongwen and crimes of conscription and use in hostilities of children under the age of 15 allegedly committed in northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005.

Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC on 16 January 2015 pursuant to an ICC warrant of arrest and transferred to the ICC custody on 21 January 2015.

The trial will be conducted by Trial Chamber IX, a panel composed of Judge Bertram Schmitt from Germany, Judge Peter Kovacs from Hungary and Judge Raul C. Pangalangan from Philippines.

 

 

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America imposes financial sanctions on Kony’s sons

The U.S. Treasury has imposed financial sanctions against two sons of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group fighting a bloody war in Central Africa.
The Treasury on Tuesday froze all assets in the United States belonging to Salim and Ali Kony, and prohibited Americans from doing business with them. Similar sanctions were imposed on Joseph Kony in March.
“Our initiatives that target the finances of the LRA and its leaders, while combating their involvement in illicit ivory trade, are part of the concerted international effort to fight against violence in the Central African Republic,” said John Smith, acting director of the branch of the Treasury in charge of financial sanctions.
Salim and Ali Kony have been part of the hierarchy of the LRA since 2010. Ali is seen as a potential successor to his father. Both sons are responsible for enforcing discipline within the group. Treasury officials said Salim is suspected of killing members of the LRA who wanted to leave the insurgency.
Since 2014, the LRA has utilized elephant poaching and ivory trafficking to generate revenue to purchase weapons and ammunition that are, in turn, used to continue the group’s attacks against civilians across Central Africa.
Salim and Ali Kony have played critical roles in the LRA’s trafficking of ivory from Garamba National Park in northern Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic for sale to local merchants.
-VOA