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Dominic Ongwen's Judgement Pushed to February 2021

The court was set to pronounce its judgement on the 12th January 2021 but a Monday 30th November 2020 press release indicates that the judgement will now take place on the 4th February 2021.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has postponed the judgement of the former Sinia Brigade Commander of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group, Dominic Ongwen.  

The court was set to pronounce its judgement on the 12th January 2021 but a Monday 30th November 2020 press release indicates that the judgement will now take place on the 4th February 2021.

"Today, 30 November 2020, Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the judgment on conviction or acquittal according to article 74 of the Rome Statute in the case The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen will be delivered on 4 February 2021 at 10:00 (The Hague local time). The delivery was initially scheduled for 12 January 2021." Reads part of the release.

Ogwen whose trial started on December 6, 2016, is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Northern Uganda while with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

It adds that the judgment will be transmitted live via the ICC website, while practical information on attending the session and information materials will be availed in due course. 

Dominic Ongwen is accused of war crimes. This is according to a press release issued by the ICC dated, November 12 2020.

Ogwen whose trial started on December 6, 2016, is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Northern Uganda while with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

On November 12th 2020 press release from the ICC stated that the verdict will be read out in public and will either acquit or convict the accused.

“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 a reasonable doubt. The Chamber bases its decision only on the applicable law and on evidence submitted and discussed before it at the trial.” the statement reads.   

In the event Ongwen is convicted, he will be imprisoned for up to 30 years, or even life imprisonment may be imposed and the victims compensated.

Jimmy Otim, the ICC Outreach for Uganda confirmed the new development to URN during a phone interview on Monday evening noting that the postponement comes in response to the election that Uganda will undergo in January this year.

Of the top LRA commanders, Ongwen would be the first to be convicted.

 In July 2005, the court issued sealed arrest warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity for the LRA’s top five commanders.

They are Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen. Lukwiya was however killed in 2006 and Otti in 2007.

Odhiambo’s body meanwhile was found in the Central African Republic in early 2015 while Kony remains at large reportedly in the vast forests of the Central African Republic and DRC.    

The Chamber to decide Ongwen’s fate 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 the victims are respected.

In response to the verdict, the parties will be able to appeal the decision before the ICC’s Appeals Chamber.

During the trial, the Chamber heard from 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.  

A total of 4,065 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 authorized to examine witnesses on specific issues.

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