During the week, the Court heard two more prosecution witness. The first one appeared in open court, while the second one benefited from protection measures, upon the prosecution team’s request. As a first step, the witness’s identity was concealed through the Islamic dress code. Before proceeding with the examination in chief, the prosecution team verbally requested for the hearing to be held in camera, since the witness lives in the same community with the sympathizers of the accused. The defence team objected to this request and argued that the initial protective measures(Islamic dress code) were sufficient enough. The team further argued that excluding the public from the hearing was against Article 28 (1) of the Constitution of Uganda which allows for public hearing, and that holding the trial in camera mayfoster a feeling of public distrust towards the process.
The court still granted the request for the hearing to be held in camera, after balancing between the witness’s safety and holding the hearing in public.
The victim lawyers remained silent and did not participate in the debates in Court, at least during the public hearings. Last March, the Court asked the victims lawyers to make formal applications to Court in order to participate. At this point, it is not clear whether the application was made.
Interpretation was also a challenge on the first day, as the designated interpreter seemed to be providing incorrect interpretation. In this regard, one of the prosecutors kept intervening so as to ensure that the interpretation was correct. It is therefore important that the court provides a person who can interpret the proceedings in a proper way to allow the accused and the court in general to follow the proceeding.
The hearing has been adjourned to October 7th, 2019.
Further information about the hearings available on International Justice Monitor.