He was facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during attacks in Pajule IDP camp in October 2003, Odek IDP camp in April 2004, Lukodi IDP camp in May 2004, and Abok IDP camps in June 2004.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted Dominic Ongwen, the former commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Ongwen was found guilty on 61 counts of War crimes and crimes against Humanity.
He was facing 70 counts of war
crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during
attacks in Pajule IDP camp on October 10, 2003, Odek IDP camp on April 29, 2004,
Lukodi IDP camp on May 19, 2004, and Abok IDP camps on June 29, 2004. The attack in Lukodi, which took place on May 19, 2004, left more than 60 people dead.
Today, ICC Trial Chamber nine composed of
Judge Bertram Schmitt, Péter Kovács and
Raul Cano Pangalangan said that they found, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Ongwen is guilty of murder, attempted murder,
torture, enslavement, outrages upon personal dignity, pillaging,
destruction of property and persecution of civilians. All the crimes were committed in the context of the
four specified attacks on the Internally Displaced Person's camps.
He was also found guilty of sexual and gender-based crimes, namely, forced marriage, torture, rape, sexual
slavery, enslavement, forced pregnancy and outrages upon personal
dignity, which he committed against seven women who were abducted and placed into
The same court convicted Ongwen on charges of forced marriage, torture, rape, sexual slavery and
enslavement, committed against girls and women within the Sinia
brigade, and the crime of conscripting children under
the age of 15 into the Sinia brigade and using them to participate
actively in hostilities.
Judge Schmitt said, in a judgement delivered today that the court found that although Ongwen suffered greatly after being
abducted by the LRA as a nine-year-old child, it noted that he was
being put on trial for crimes committed as a “fully responsible adult
and as a commander of the LRA in his mid to late twenties”.
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The Chamber, however, did not find evidence that
supported the claim that Ongwen suffered from any mental disease or
disorder during the period relevant to the charges or that he committed
these crimes under duress or under any threats. The judge said in his statement that Ongwen himself
participated in the crimes and oversaw them.
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The court found that Ongwen was not under duress, and did not
have a mental disorder that would affect his decision-making. The judge instead
said that Ongwen was not a subordinate, but a man who contested orders and
exercised his own independence in committing the crimes and planned very well before
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According to Schmitt, the chamber will soon impose the crimes
of which he has been convicted. For the purposes of determining the appropriate
sentence, the ICC chamber will consider submissions by the Prosecutor, the defence of Dominic Ongwen led by Crispus Ayena and the representatives of the
The Defence could appeal the case, and based on the
evidence, the appeals chamber can uphold or overturn the judgment.
Ongwen can be jailed in any country of the ICC member states
for a maximum of 30 years or a life sentence. ICC's founding treaty, the Rome
Statute does not provide for a death penalty.
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Ongwen is the first among the
five LRA rebel commanders indicted by the ICC in 2005 to face trial at The
Hague based court in the Netherlands. Others indicted included LRA rebel leader
Joseph Kony still on the run, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, and Raska Lukwiya who
are all presumed dead.
Over the course of 234 hearings, the
Office of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, presented a total of 109
witnesses and experts, the Defence team lead by Krispus Ayena Odongo
presented a total of 63 witnesses and experts and seven witnesses and
experts were called by the Legal Representatives of the Victims
that participated in the proceedings.