ICC separates Ongwen case from Kony

By Vision Reporter

ICC has severed the proceedings against Dominic Ongwen from the case of The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen

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By Samuel Ouga

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has released a statement saying; “Single Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova, on behalf of Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has severed the proceedings against Dominic Ongwen from the case of The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen.”

The statement further reads; “As the three other suspects in the case have not appeared or have not been apprehended yet, the Chamber reportedly, deemed it necessary to separate the case so as not to delay the pre-trial proceedings against Mr Ongwen. After having consulted the Prosecutor, the Chamber decided not to proceed against the other three suspects in absentia. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and Okot Odhiambo remain at large, almost ten years after the issuance of the warrants of arrest.”

The ICC statement adds that this “decision does not in any way affect the rights of the victims accepted to participate in the case of the Kony et al. case. The Chamber will, in due course and in a separate decision, address the issue of victims' participation in the Ongwen case.”

Background: On 16 January 2015, Dominic Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC's custody and transferred to the ICC Detention Centre on 21 January 2015. His initial appearance before the Court took place on 26 January 2015. The beginning of the confirmation of charges hearing – a preliminary step to decide whether the case will be referred to a trial or not –  in respect of Dominic Ongwen was provisionally scheduled for 24 August 2015.

Dominic Ongwen was the alleged Brigade Commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). On 8 July 2005, ICC Judges issued an arrest warrant against Mr Ongwen for 3 counts of crimes against humanity (murder; enslavement; inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering) and 4 counts of war crimes (murder; cruel treatment of civilians; intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population; pillaging) allegedly committed on or about 20 May 2004 at the Lukodi IDP Camp in the Gulu District.


Who is Domnic Ongwen?

Dominic Ongwen was the commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group founded in northern Uganda. As the head of one of the four LRA brigades, Ongwen was a member of the "Control Altar" of the LRA that directs military strategy.

Ongwen is the lowest ranking of the five LRA leaders for whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued their first ever warrants in June 2005. He is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In 1990 at the age of 10, Ongwen was abducted by the LRA as he walked to school, and subsequently indoctrinated as an LRA fighter.

Ongwen was reported killed in combat with a unit of the Uganda People's Defence Force on October 10, 2005, and the identity of the body was confirmed by former LRA commanders. However, in July 2006, the ICC reported that genetic fingerprinting of the body confirmed that it was not that of Ongwen.

On January 6, 2015, Ongwen either surrendered to American Special Forces or was captured by a Seleka rebel group and handed over to the Americans in the Central African Republic. The Americans in turn handed Ongwen over to Central African Republic forces who then handed him to Ugandan forces. The Uganda Peoples Defence Forces handed Ongwen to the International Criminal Court for trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court Headquarters in The Hague.

ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II separates Dominic Ongwen case from Kony