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ICC Judges Reject Ongwen's Request for Acquittal Motion :: Uganda Radionetwork
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ICC Judges Reject Ongwen's Request for Acquittal Motion

On July 5, 2018, Ongwens lead lawyer Crispus Ayena Odongo filed a request before Trial Chamber IX to allow him to file a no case to answer and judgment for acquittal motion. Odongo identified four broad grounds for having the charges against Ongwen completely or partially dismissed.
Dominic Ongwen Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the LRA charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the ICC
Judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) have rejected a defence request to file a motion for the acquittal of Dominic Ongwen of some of the charges against him.

On July 5, 2018, Ongwen's lead lawyer Crispus Ayena Odongo filed a request before Trial Chamber IX to allow him to file a no case to answer and judgment for acquittal motion. Odongo identified four broad grounds for having the charges against Ongwen completely or partially dismissed.

In his application, Odongo argued that the court should dismiss the 10 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that Ongwen has been charged with for his alleged involvement in an attack on Pajule IDP camp on October 10, 2003.

Odongo claims that the prosecution had withdrawn witnesses who were supposed to back-up claims that Ongwen was involved in planning and implementing the attack.

He said that witnesses P-309 and P-330, who testified in court, said Ongwen was present at a meeting where senior LRA commanders discussed the Pajule attack, but they did not hear Ongwen say anything at that meeting.

Another reason Odongo argued for dismissing the charges relating to the Pajule attack is that the Ugandan security agencies' intercepts of LRA radio communications only had the then deputy LRA leader, Vincent Otti, reporting back to LRA leader Joseph Kony about that attack.

He added that pillaging charges against Ongwen were defective. The pillaging allegedly occurred during attacks on the Abok, Lukodi, Pajule, and Odek IDP camps. Odongo said pillaging in the jurisprudence of the ICC and international criminal tribunals requires that the property that was allegedly pillaged belong to an enemy or hostile party and that prosecution did not present evidence to show this.

But trial Chamber IX unanimously decided against the defence request saying Ongwen's lawyers had failed to convince them that granting their request would make the trial fairer for Ongwen or expedite the proceedings.

The judges said that the issues the defence raised to include in a potential no case to answer motion did not justify allowing such a motion. Among the issues, the chamber analyzed in their decision were the pillaging charges and charges relating to a Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in October 2003.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity that allegedly took place between July 2002 and December 2005 in northern Uganda. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Trial Chamber IX said a no case to answer motion was unnecessary to determine whether the prosecution presented evidence Ongwen was allegedly involved in pillaging the Abok, Lukodi, Odek, and Pajule IDP camps. The chamber said the defence would have an opportunity to make their legal arguments on the matter.

If the defence opts to ask Trial Chamber IX to allow them to appeal the chamber's decision, the matter may only be resolved after the court's summer recess. The ICC began its recess on Friday and it continues until August 13.