Dominic Ongwen Begins Defense in ICC

2041 Views The Hague, Netherlands

In short
Ongwen, indicted for the most number of war crimes and crimes against humanity is facing up to 70 charges at The Hague based International court. The charges relate to attacks on civilians who had sought government protections in Lukodi, Pajule, Abok and Odek internally displaced persons camps in Northern Uganda between 1st July 2002 and 31st December 2005.

Dominic Ongwen, the former commander of the Lord's Resistance Army- LRA who is standing trial at the International Criminal Court-ICC will today begin submission of his defense this morning.

Ongwen, indicted for the most number of war crimes and crimes against humanity is facing up to 70 charges at The Hague based International court.

The charges relate to attacks on civilians who had sought government protections in Lukodi, Pajule, Abok and Odek internally displaced persons' camps in Northern Uganda between 1st July 2002 and 31st December 2005. 

Ongwen who pleaded not guilty to all the charges at the beginning of his trial in 2016 declined to make his opening statement in the case at the time. His lead lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo says Ongwen has finally understood the scope of the charges brought against him.

Ayena says the time is now right for Dominic Ongwen to demonstrate his innocence to the world. 

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The statement will give a preview of the evidence the defense will adduce in favour of their client and what they think about the charges brought against him as well as some brief facts about witnesses among others.


Ayena says Ongwen is confident that he will prove to the court that the case against him is a case against the institution of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

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In 2016, prosecutions told court that Ongwen was the tip of the spear for the Lord's Resistance Army.  Benjamin Gumpert, a senior prosecution lawyer said the charges against Ongwen relate to his adult life in the LRA.

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The trial against Ongwen, 43, has made him the world's youngest former child soldier to be indicted with the most number of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges include rape, wilful killing, abductions and other inhumane acts of war crimes. He denied all the charges when his trial opened in 2016.

So far, Ongwen is the only commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) standing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC indicted Ongwen alongside the founder of the rebel group Joseph Kony, Kony's deputy Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya and Okot Odhiambo.

Lukwiya and Odhiambo have been confirmed killed in battles with troops of Uganda People's Defense Forces while Otti is alleged to have been killed by Joseph Kony, the elusive warlord on whose head hangs an ICC arrest warrant.
 

 

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.