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Mental health experts to testify on Ongwen’s state of mind

By Vision Reporter

Added 11th October 2019 10:04 AM

According to the International Justice Monitor (IJM), the Chamber has given the two witnesses between November 18 and November 22, to explain why, in their opinion, Ongwen had a mental illness.

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PIC: Dominic Ongwen is alleged to have committed murder, enslavement, rape, pillaging and inflicted serious bodily harm on civilians. (AFP)

According to the International Justice Monitor (IJM), the Chamber has given the two witnesses between November 18 and November 22, to explain why, in their opinion, Ongwen had a mental illness.

The International Criminal Court’s Trial Chamber IX has allowed former LRA rebel leader, Dominic Ongwen’s lawyers to present two mental health experts to explain his purported mental illness.

According to the International Justice Monitor (IJM), the Chamber has given the two witnesses between November 18 and November 22, to explain why, in their opinion, Ongwen had a mental illness or defect during the period that he has been charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

IJM said the Chamber also decided the prosecution may call a rebuttal witness to testify on either November 25 or November 26. The judges said that if the defense so wishes they could call a rejoinder witness to testify on either November 28 or November 29.

Part of the case the defense team is presenting is that Ongwen is not responsible for the crimes he has been charged with because he had a mental illness or defect during the period he is alleged to have committed those crimes.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) between July 2002 and December 2005 in northern Uganda. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Last year, the prosecution called two psychiatrists and a psychologist to show the court that Ongwen can be held responsible for the crimes he has been charged with. The prosecution expert witnesses were psychiatrist Gillian Clare Mezey, psychiatrist Catherine Abbo and psychologist Roland Weierstall.

Trial Chamber IX made the decision after it received submissions from the defense and the prosecution. The defense filed a request on September 17 asking that their experts be allowed to testify between November 18 and November 22, which is when they will be available to do so.

They also asked that the experts be allowed to testify jointly, a request the chamber rejected. In its filing, the defense only referred to their experts as D-41 and D-42.

The prosecution filed two submissions on the matter. On September 19, the prosecution filed a response to the defense’s September 17 request. The prosecution indicated in a separate filing on September 17 that they were considering calling a rebuttal witness after the defense called their mental health experts. In that request, the prosecution also wanted to know when the defense experts would testify.

In the September 17 filing, the prosecution said Weierstall would be their rebuttal witness. The prosecution also said D-41 is Dr. [Dickens] Akena and D-42 is Dr. [Emilio] Ovuga.

During the March and April 2018 testimony of Mezey, Abbo, and Weierstall, Akena and Ovuga were named but the defense later applied to have their names redacted from the record. Single Judge Bertram Schmitt ruled against that request twice, in July 2018 and October 2018.

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