The International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to deliver its final judgment in the case against Dominic Ongwen, former Lord Resistance Army (LRA) top commander, on Thursday February 4, 2021.
Ongwen is facing multiple charges including war crimes and crimes against humanity filed against him for commanding ruthless attacks that left many people dead and others displaced during the LRA war in Northern Uganda.
In a press statement released on their official Website, ICC said that the judgment will either be on conviction or acquittal, pursuant to article 74 of the Rome Statute.
“The verdict will be read out in public and will either acquit or convict the accused. The accused before the ICC is presumed innocent while the prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused only if it is satisfied that the charges have been proven beyond reasonable doubts,” the statement reads in part.
“The Chamber bases its decision only on the applicable law and on evidence submitted and discussed before it at the trial,” the statement adds.
The judgment, according to the statement, will be delivered at exactly 10:00 am (Hague Local Time) and the session shall be transmitted live through the ICC Website.
Between 1994 and 2005, the Ugandan government, through the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), waged war against the Lord’s Resistance Army which was led by war lord, Joseph Kony.
The 17 year-war was characterized by atrocities perpetrated by the LRA who reportedly raped women, killed innocent people, forcefully recruited young boys into their army on orders from Ongwen.
Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which he allegedly committed in Northern Uganda.
The trial trial kicked off on December 6, 2016, where Prosecution and Defence presented their evidence, including the appearance of the legal representatives of the victims before the presiding judge closed evidence submission on December 12, 2019.
The statement indicates that a total of 4,065 victims represented by their legal Counsels; Joseph Akwenyu Manoba, Francisco Cox and Paolina Massidda have been granted the right to participate in the proceedings.
“They have expressed their position on matters heard before the Chamber and were authorized to examine witnesses on specific issues. The closing briefs were filed on 24 February 2020, and the closing statements took place from 10 to 12 March 2020,” the statement adds.
The Chamber is composed of three judges; Bertram Schmitt (presiding judge), Peter Kovacs and Raul Cano Pangalangan, who will all ensure fairness of the trial and that the rights of both parties and the victims are respected, according to the statement.
Reports indicated that the trial chamber issued 70 Oral decisions and 190 written decisions during the trial phase of proceedings.
The total case record, consisting of the filings of the parties and participants and the Chamber’s decision, currently includes more than 1750 filings, according to reports.
During the course of the 231 hearings, the Chamber is reported to have heard 69 witnesses and experts summoned by the Office of the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, 54 witnesses and experts called by the Defence team led by Kispus Ayena Odongo and seven (07) witnesses and experts summoned by the Legal Representatives of the Victims, who participated in the proceedings.
“The Judges ensured the respect of the rights guaranteed by the Rome Statute to each of the parties, including the right to question the witnesses,” the statement indicates.