4000 witnesses to testify in Ongwen’s ICC trial

Dominic Ongwen has been convicted by the ICC on Thursday. File photo.

The defense counsel of Dominic Ongwen who is being tried by the International Criminal Court-ICC is yet to present 37 more witnesses when the court returns from recess.

Ongwen’s defense team is headed by Counsel Crypus Ayena Odongo – the former Oyam North MP.

The defense team started its defense with an opening statement on the 18th of September 2018 and in total, it has 70 witnesses that will testify in favor of Dominic Ongwen, 62 have accepted to testify, live in court.

The rest of the witnesses testified between 5th – 29th of April 2019 before The Hague based international court went on recess.

According to the court’s department for field outreaches, a total of 4,107 witnesses will testify before prosecution concludes hearing the case against Dominic Ongwen who is facing 70 different counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, when he was one of the commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel.

Eric Odong, a field outreach officer with International Criminal Court in Uganda, told media, members of the civil society and cultural leaders on last week in Lira town that Ongwen is only being tried for the crimes he is alleged to have committed in Pajule, Abok, Odek and Lukodo internally displaced people’s camps – northern Uganda.

He was giving a briefing on the status of the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court in Hague Netherlands.

Asked when the ICC could conclude trial in Ongwen’s case, Odong said “it is not possible to project because there are many witnesses yet to testify,” adding, that “the ICC is still treating Dominic Ongwen as a suspect until prosecution finds him guilty”.

Odong also briefed the team on some of the rights and privileges that Ogwen is entitled to while he is undergoing trials.

He says prosecution is required to furnish the defense team of Dominic Ongwen with some of the potential evidences that they intend to adduce before court to prove his crimes.

“It is also Ongwen’s right to speak in court or maintain his silence; this means that prosecution should not compel him to speak in court against his will. The former LRA commander also has a right to speedy trial and defense,” he told the meeting.

Tasked to explain what the fate of victims becomes, if Ongwen is found to be innocent of the crimes labeled against him, Odong says “it would have an impact on the reparations”.

But he adds that Trust Funds for Victims, which is part of the ICC, have disbursed funds over the years to victims of the LRA atrocities in northern Uganda.

Related: Trust Fund for Victims launched 1.2 million euro project

Dominic Ongwen was born in 1975 in the village of Coorom, Kilak County, Amuru district, Northern Uganda. He is the ex-commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group that formerly operated in northern Uganda.

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