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Dominic Ongwen’s defense to conclude submissions in October

FILE PHOTO: Dominic Ongwen in the Hague

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Defense team of Dominic Ongwen is expected to conclude its submission in October this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has said.

Ongwen, the former commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA faces a historic 70 counts of sexual and gender-based violence, war crimes and crimes against humanity in The Hague based court in Netherlands for crimes committed in Northern Uganda.

Ongwen’s trial began on December 6th 2016 and he was formally charged in February 2017.

The Prosecution has completed its presentation of evidence, and the Legal Representatives of Victims also called witnesses to appear before the Chamber.

Ongwen’s trial which resumed on Tuesday at the Hague based court has so far seen the 26th defense witness appearing to defend Ongwen. Ongwen has up to 62 witnesses who will testify in defense of Ongwen.

Among the witnesses are; former Local Defense Units, witchdoctors and traditionalists, ex-LRA members among others.

According to the ICC, Ongwens Defense led by Crispus Ayena Odongo is expected to conclude its submission in October this year, before the judgement.

According Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Outreach Officer Uganda, the estimation of the conclusion of the defense case, before the case can be decided in October this year.

Mabinty says the trial is going smoothly, with all witnesses of different categories appearing.

Mabinty was on Tuesday addressing a press conference on an update of the trial at Hotel Africana.

After the submission of the Defense, it is expected that the ICC judges will use about 60 days to look at the submissions of the defense, prosecution and victims before it can come out with a judgement.

In this case, Judges consider all evidence then issue a verdict and, when there is a verdict of guilt, issue a sentence.

The ICC judges can sentence a person up to 30 years of imprisonment, and under exceptional circumstances, a life sentence which he or she may serve in any member state of the International Criminal Court.

Both the Defense and the Prosecutor can appeal the verdict. Judges can also order compensations for the victims.

In January 2019, Dominic Ongwen was captured in the Central African Republic (CAR) before he was transferred to the ICC.

Ongwen is charged along with LRA leader Joseph Kony and second in command Okot Odhiambo. The two are still at large, believed to be operating between CAR and Sudan.

While the case initially involved Raska Lukwiya and Okot Odhiambo, proceedings against them were dropped because they were reportedly dead.

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