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Ongwen's trial begins at the Hague

By Carol Natukunda

Added 6th December 2016 07:53 AM

The trial will open with the reading of the charges against Ongwen, the ICC stated.

Ongwen's trial begins at the Hague

The trial will open with the reading of the charges against Ongwen, the ICC stated.

PHOTO: Former commander of the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) Dominic Ongwen in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The trial of Dominic Ongwen, an alleged former Lord's Resistance Army(LRA) rebel commander is scheduled to start on Tuesday December, 6, 2016, at 11:30am Ugandan time in the Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The trial will open with the reading of the charges against Ongwen, the ICC stated.

The presiding judges are Judge Bertram Schmitt, Judge Péter Kovács, and Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan.

"The Judges will verify that the accused person understood the nature of the charges. The Judges will also ask him whether he makes an admission of guilt or pleads not guilty to the charges," ICC said in a statement to the media.

Oral opening statements will be delivered by the Office of the prosecutor and the legal representatives of victims. The trial will then resume on 16 January 2017, when the Prosecution will begin to present its evidence and call its witnesses before the judges. At its request, the Defence will make its opening statements at the beginning of the presentation of its evidence.

Ongwen, is accused of 70 counts of war crimes against humanity. Ongwen is also linked to the civilian killings in the former internally displaced people's camps of Lukodi, Pajule, Odek and Abok between October 2003 and June 2004.  It is further alleged that from at least 1 July 2002 until 31 December 2005, Ongwen, Joseph Kony, and the other rebel commanders were part of a plan to abduct women and girls in northern Uganda that were then used as forced wives and sex slaves, tortured, raped and made to serve as domestic help; and to conscript and use children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities in the LRA. Ongwen was transferred to the Court's custody on 21 January 2015 pursuant to an ICC warrant of arrest.

VICTIMS

ICC also announced that a total number of 4,107 victims have been accepted to participate in the proceedings in the Ongwen case.

"They are represented by two different teams of lawyers: Joseph Akwenyu Manoba and Francisco Cox, who were chosen by these victims; a second group of victims who did not choose a lawyer are represented by Paolina Massidda from the Office of Public Counsel for Victims," ICC said

BACKGROUND

Uganda ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC in June 2002.

In 2005, the Netherlands-based court issued arrest warrants for war crimes and crimes against humanity against five top LRA commanders: Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Raska Lukwiya and Dominic Ongwen.

Lukwiya, Odhiambo and Otti were along the way confirmed dead. However, LRA's top commander Kony remains at large.

Ongwen has been in ICC custody since 21 January 2015  awaiting trial.

Born in the village of Coorom, Kilak County, Amuru District, Northern

Uganda, Ongwen is alleged to have been a former commander of the Sinia Brigade which is one of the four brigades of the LRA.

"The trial may last several years, depending on the complexity of the case and challenges that may arise," ICC stated.

Persons convicted of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC do not serve their sentence at the ICC Detention Centre in The Hague

"Convicted persons are  transferred to a prison in a State designated by the Court from a list of States which have indicated their willingness to allow convicted persons to serve their sentence," ICC said, on its website ahead of the trial.

It added that there is no death penalty at the ICC in the event of a conviction.

"The Judges may impose a prison sentence, to which may be added a

fine or forfeiture of the proceeds, property and assets derived directly or indirectly from the crime committed.

"The maximum sentence is 30 years. However, in extreme cases, such as the specific circumstances of the accused conviction, the Court may impose a term of life imprisonment."

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