Lawyer for LRA Defendant in ICC Trial Says Case documents robbed in Uganda

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Ayena Odongo.

Krispus Charles Ayena Odongo, a lawyer for a Lord's Resistance Army defendant in an ICC trial says he was robbed in Uganda of personal belongings including laptop computers with documents connected to his client's case.

Ayena is defending Dominic Ongwen a former top deputy to Joseph Kony the elusive LRA leader. Ongwen surrendered and is being tried on war crimes charges in the Hague for alleged atrocities commited during 20 years of conflict between the LRA and dictator Yoweri Museveni's army.

Critics contend the ICC has ignored the far graver atrocities commited by the Ugandan military during the conflict by only prosecuting the LRA commanders. There is resentment towards the selective prosecution by the people in the once vibrant area destroyed by war.

The Ugandan dictator of 32 years Gen. Museveni confined 90% of the population in Acholi region during the war. One million people are estimated to have died over a 20 year period of neglect in the camps. The World Health Organization (W.H.O) estimated that there were 1,000 excess deaths per week in the camps.

Ayena, the Ogwen lawyer, says the theft occured at 11pm yesterday when one of three parked vehicles in his entourage were opened with a master key while he was dining at the Abola-Lapok Hotel. Ayena is interviewing witnesses for his client Ongwen. It's suspected Ugandan military intelligence may have been behind the break in to obtain information that may implicate the Museveni regime for its own role in the atrocities during the war.

"God forbid, I am now left hopeless without any document," Ayena said. “I'm finished. I have been left with completely nothing and I have to start from zero."

The lawyer, who is also a Member of Parliament in Uganda, was robbed of two laptop computers as well as his aide’s mobile phones. Ayena reported the robbery to Gulu Police Central Station. It is feared that the theft of documents may put in jeopardy the lives of witnesses who were willing to speak on behalf of Ogwen.

The Aswa Region police spokesman, Jimmy Patrick Okema, confirmed receiving the case of the break in into Ayena’s cars and said that they are investigating the matter. He dismissed allegations that the government of Uganda was behind the theft. “I hope this is a normal car robbery taking place in northern Uganda,” Okema said.

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