Defense Asks ICC to Acquit Dominic Ongwen

1632 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Krispus Ayena Odongo, Ongwens lead lawyer says they are demanding the dismissal of the case due to several defects emanating from the confirmation of charges.

The team defending former Lord's Resistance Army-LRA commander Dominic Ongwen has again asked the International Criminal Court to dismiss all the charges against him for breach of his fair trial rights.

Krispus Ayena Odongo, Ongwen's lead lawyer says they are demanding the dismissal of the case due to several defects emanating from the confirmation of charges.

He says that the Trial Chamber II erred in judgment in confirming the 70 charges and 6 modes of liabilities against Dominic Ongwen, something which rendered all the charges defective. They want Trial Chamber IX to rule on their motion and acquit the accused of all the charges.

This is the third time Dominic Ongwen's defense is asking the court to terminate charges of War Crimes, Crimes against humanity and sexual crimes slapped against Dominic Ongwen in relation to his time and command responsibility in the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

He says the application is in line with a motion defense tabled before court indicating that it will challenge the defects in the decision which confirmed the 70 charges and the six modes of liabilities against Ongwen.

Ayena says the defects are being challenged pursuant to pursuant to Article 64(2) of the Rome Statute and Rule 134(3) of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence in a motion grouped into four different series they have categorized as the Defects Series.

Ayena says the first part of the series addresses the basic principles of fair trial, notice with which charges against Ongwen were confirmed. He says the notice was silent on the elements of crimes for which Ongwen was charged and asked to prepare a defense as well as the context under which the alleged crimes contravened the International Humanitarian and Criminal laws.

According to Ayena, the right to notice is the linchpin of a fair trial in any judicial proceeding. He says the defects in the notice contravene fundamental rights of the accused to a fair trial since they were never satisfied before the charges were confirmed. It asserts that some of the requirements were met 30 days after the charges were confirmed in contravention of International Criminal laws.

Part Three of the application addresses defects in notice in pleading to the command responsibility under Article 28(a) of the Rome Statute and identifies defects in pleading of common purpose liability under Article 25(3)(d)(i) or (ii) of the Statute while the final part, Part Four addresses defects in charged crimes.

Court will give time to Prosecution and the Legal Representatives for Victims to give their comments on the applications before Court rules on them. It should be remembered that the International Criminal Court rejected an application of no case to answer by the Defense of Dominic Ongwen in the past.

While opening its defense on September 16, 2018, the defense asked the court to dismiss the charges against Dominic Ongwen for want of prosecution. The application was also rejected.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.