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Spirits in Uganda don’t use guns or rape women, traditional healers tell ICC after witch-doctor testifies for Ongwen

In October, a witch doctor testifying for former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen told The Hague-based court that Kony used spirits to control his fighters, thus the atrocities they committed were done under influence of spirits. But traditional healers in Uganda have told ICC that spirits in the country do not use guns, rape women and such things. They want the court to trash the witness testimony.

JUSTICE | Traditional healers under their umbrella body known as “Uganda ne dagala lyayo” have disowned and disparaged as “false” the evidence a witch doctor gave to the International Crimes Court (ICC) in defence of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen.

Ongwen is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In October, a camouflaged man who had a distorted voice, left the ICC courtroom stupefied as his unusual evidence walked the three judges of the court from end to end of the voodoo underworld.

Testifying as prosecution Witness number 150, which also doubled pseudo name, the witch-doctor tried to insulate Ongwen of any blame, saying that the former commander of the alleged Sinia Brigade of the LRA could have committed atrocities under the influence of fetish.

LRA leader Joseph Kony, the witness said, deployed spirits to manipulate the minds and monitor ctivities of his forced recruits to fight the government of Uganda.

“If you are under the spell of the spirit, you only do what it instructs you to do. If it instructs you to kill, you follow what it tells you to do,” the protected witness claimed.

The involvement of the witch-doctor came after Krispus Ayena Odongo, Ongwen’s lawyer, wrote to Uganda ne dagala lyayo on December 14, 2017, asking the witches for their expertise which he said would be needed in The Hague where the ICC is headquartered.

“Spiritual aspects have played a prominent role of the Lord’s Resistance Army as mechanism for control of the fighters within its ranks. In the premises, there is a need to address the spiritual dimension of this conflict, which your association is instrumental key aid to the court in learning, appreciating and understanding this fact,” Odongo wrote.

The information to be obtained was necessary to help the court come to a just a decision, he added.

“The information that will be obtained from your members shall be assessed and if determined by the team as useful for the case, your members may be called upon to give a testimony at the hearing of the defence case at such time that the court schedule shall permit,” Odongo, a former Oyam North MP, said.

‘Spirits don’t use guns’

But in a letter to the Attorney General by Ssabasamize Ssalongo Karim Walyamira, who calls himself the president general/ chairperson Board of Founders of Ugdominic ongwenanda ne dagala lyayo, characterizes
the witchdoctors evidence as “totally false.”

Walyamira described the witch-doctor who testified who testified in The Hague as an “impersonator of a traditional healer “since he is not well known if he is indeed “a true traditional healer” because he apparently not known in their registry.

“Attorney General, we are informing you that if this impersonator is a true traditional healer, he would have document signed by the president general on behalf of Uganda ne Dagala Lyayo,” the letter partly reads.

“Attorney General, we want to inform you and the International Criminal Court that we disagree with the evidence that were given to court because the letter dated December 14, 2017, that was written to this organisation signed by Hon Krispus Ayena Odongo, counsel of defence team for Dominic Ongwen, requesting five people from Uganda ne dagala lyayo.”

Walyamira says in Uganda they don’t have such spirits that can do what Ongwen and Kony did to kill people using guns, swords, raping, defiling.

“Spirits in Uganda cannot use guns, swords. Spirits cannot rape or defile women,” he said.

“Furthermore, we as the body responsible to give guidance to the Government of Uganda, about natural spirits, cultural norms and some parts of the environment, we call upon the government to come up and defend its self rubbishing such false evidence, which was given in ICC court,” the letter goes on.

Ongwen, who fathered a child while in detention, faces 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the ICC, which charges he has since denied.

He is accused of give a free rein to attacks on four camps for displaced people of Pajule, Abok, Lukodi, Odek in Gulu and Oyam districts displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005.

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