Can you be an executioner and a victim at the same time?

That is the central question for Krispus Ayena, who has been appointed defence lawyer at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in the most prestigious case of his career. At the age of 9, Ayena’s client, Dominique Ongwen, became one of at least 20.000 children abducted by rebel leader Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. Ongwen was brainwashed by Kony, who used a combination of Christianity, witchcraft and torture to turn the children into loyal LRA soldiers in the rebellion against incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni.

Ongwen quickly learned that it was a matter of kill or be killed – and he rose to the rank of commander before one day surrendering to the authorities and the following prosecution in The Hague.

Ongwen is charged with 70 different counts of crimes, including torture, rape and murder. But his defence lawyer, Ayena, wants him acquitted because he believes Ongwen is not responsible for the way his life turned out. In addition, the outcome of the trial threatens to reopen old wounds at home in Uganda seeing that Ongwen and the LRA are part of the Acholi people of northern Uganda, where Kony founded his brutal army in response to the equally brutal crackdown on the Acholi people by the incumbent president, Museveni.

For Ayena and many other Ugandans, the case is therefore deeply unfair because only one side of the conflict is being held accountable in The Hague. Personally, Ayena has a lot at stake. He must not only get justice for his client and his people – but also try to explain to the Western-based International Criminal Court what kind of country Uganda is, and what the potential consequences of the verdict might be.


The film is screened in the frame of a forum at the School of Magistrates.


School of Magistrates


Denmark, Germany






105 min


Lukasz Konopa & Emil Langbelle

Written By

Kacper Czubak PSC


Rasmus Stensgaard Madsen


Helle Faber - made in copenhagen


22 September 2023, 11:00

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