ICC trial against Dominic Ongwen begins with not guilty plea

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On 6 December 2016, the trial started in the Ongwen case before the ICC Trial Chamber IX. Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda between October 2003 and June 2004. He is also accused to have, as a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), allegedly participated in a common plan to i) abduct women and girls then used as forced wives, sex slaves, or domestic help and ii) “conscript and use children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities in the LRA” from at least 1 July 2002 until 31 December 2005.

After the reading of the charges, Mr. Ongwen pleaded not guilty. He explained that he was himself a victim of LRA’s campaign of child kidnapping and stated that “it was the LRA who abducted and killed people in northern Uganda, and I am one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities. It is not me who is the LRA”. The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda along with Senior Trial Lawyer Benjamin Gumpert made its opening statements.  On 7 January 2016, the two victims teams – representing 4,107 victims participating in the case – will make their opening statements.

Then, the Ongwen case will resume on 16 December 2016 to start the Prosecution case. Following Defence Counsel Krispus Ayena Odongo’s request, the Defence team will make its opening statements once the Prosecution has finished the presentation of its case. The Defence will then starts its case. The trial opening has been broadcast live in Northern Uganda and in Kampala.

News Courtesy: (ICC Website ; UK Reuters ; BBC ; The Guardian).

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