The ongoing trial of former LRA rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen continued in the Hague on Wednesday October 24 as court heard testimony from the sixth defence witness.
The witness was Jackson Acama, a former LRA abductee whose testimony touched prominently on the role of the spiritual aspect in the LRA camp. He told court that Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group was often possessed by the spirits and that he (Acama) was responsible for transcribing whatever Kony said while he was under the influence of the so-called spirits.
Acama, a former school teacher who later joined Tito Okello’s UNLA as a coordinator told defence counsel Krispus Ayena that in 1987, the “Holy Spirit mobile forces” currently known as the LRA forcefully took him and others and “conscripted” them into the rebel group.
The witness told court that upon abduction by the LRA rebels, he was given the role of a technician in Yard Koi. He explained that a yard was like a shrine where “god exercises his power”.
The yard, Acama said, was where they “controlled the battle”, “healed the sick”, and that it is where he as a technician controlled enemy firearms during battle by praying for the firearms to fail.
His other role was “clerk to the spirit”. In his testimony, Acama said he was responsible for taking notes of what Kony said when he was possessed by the spirits and would later read the notes back to Kony later on after the spirits left.
He said Kony had several spirits such as “Juma Oris”, “silli selindi”, “who are you” among many others.
The witness said that Kony prophesied about the future and everything happened as he had prophesied.
He described Kony as having been “happy” and “chatty” when he wasn’t possessed by the “holy spirit”.
Acama said that when Kony was possessed, his eyes turned red and he was very serious until the spirits left him. The witness said that as a clerk to the spirits, he kept a notebook with all the instructions of the spirits speaking through Kony but he never saw the spirits himself but he believed that the spirits manifested to Kony.
He said that the LRA rebels followed very strict rules and orders which if violated attracted severe punishment. Among the rules was to obey the 10 commandments. Acama also revealed that praying every day was mandatory in the LRA.
In addition, members of the rebel group were not allowed to smoke or drink. According to Acama, there were rules governing how to conduct oneself in the LRA family as well as during battle. There were also rules regarding abducted girls and women and how to distribute them among soldiers.
He carried out the spiritual related duties for seven years until 1994 when he was promoted to coordinate peace talks between the Ugandan governement and the LRA, Acama said.
Asked by the defence lawyer to talk about the peace talks between the LRA and government of Uganda between 1994 and 1995, the witness said the process was frustrated after they (LRA) refused to “surrender unconditionally” as the government had demanded.
Fillowing the collapse of the peace process, Kony would then declare the resumption of the war. Kony ordered LRA to move to Sudan immediately, the witness said.
In Sudan, he said, the Sudanese governement gave food, sanctuary, military uniforms training and ammunition to the LRA.
The military training occurred in 1997, and that’s when LRA started giving military ranks to the LRA commanders. The witness confirmed that while there is still military rank and hierarchy in the LRA, Kony is the one receiving orders from the Holy Spirit and issuing those orders to his commanders.