Dominic Ongwen

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to deliver its judgment in the matter against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Dominic Ongwen.

Ongwen is accused of commanding LRA rebels who attacked four camps for displaced people in Pajule in Pader District, Abok, Lukodi, Odek in Gulu and Oyam districts killing, raping and looting among other crimes committed by the insurgents.

According to a press statement released by the Netherlands based Court; the judgement will be delivered on 4 February 2021. The session will be transmitted live through the ICC website and Practical information on attending the session and information materials will be available in due course.

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“The verdict will be read out in public and will either acquit or convict the accused. The accused before the ICC is presumed innocent. While the Prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused, the Trial Chamber will convict the accused only if it is satisfied that the charges have been proven beyond reasonable doubt. The Chamber bases its decision only on the applicable law and on evidence submitted and discussed before it at the trial,” ICC said.

The Chamber is composed of Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, Judge Péter Kovács and Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan. The three judges ensure the fairness of the trial and that the rights of both parties and of the victims are respected.

The trial in this case opened on 6 December 2016. Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda. The Prosecution and the Defence have completed the presentation of their evidence. The Legal Representatives of Victims also called witnesses to appear before the Chamber. On 12 December 2019, the Presiding Judge declared the closure of the submission of evidence in the case. The closing briefs were filed on 24 February 2020. The closing statements took place from 10 to 12 March 2020.

Over the course of 231 hearings, the Chamber heard 69 witnesses and experts called by the Office of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, 54 witnesses and experts called by the Defence team lead by Krispus Ayena Odongo and 7 witnesses and experts called by the Legal Representatives of the Victims participating in the proceedings. The judges ensured the respect of the rights guaranteed by the Rome Statute to each of the parties, including the right to question the witnesses.

A total of 4065 victims, represented by their legal counsels Joseph Akwenyu Manoba, and Francisco Cox, as well as Paolina Massidda, respectively, have been granted the right to participate in the proceedings. They have expressed their position on matters heard before the Chamber and were authorised to examine witnesses on specific issues.

The Trial Chamber issued 70 oral decisions, and 190 written decisions during the trial phase of the proceedings. The total case record, consisting of the filings of the parties and participants and the Chamber’s decision, currently includes more than 1750 filings.