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Prosecution Starts Submission of Final Evidence in Ongwen Trial :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Prosecution Starts Submission of Final Evidence in Ongwen Trial

Dahirou Sant-Anna, the International Cooperation Adviser in the office of the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says prosecution is left with few vital pieces of evidence to submit before court by Mid-March of 2018.
ICC International Cooperation Adviser Dahirou Sant Anna (R) and Field Outreach Assistant Eric Odong (L) Briefing Journalists in Gulu

Audio 2

Submission of prosecution evidence is tending towards a conclusion in the trial of former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen.

Ongwen who was formally charged in February this year, is facing 70 counts of sexual and gender based violence, war crimes and crimes against humanity in a trial going on at the seat of the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands.

Dahirou Sant-Anna, the international Cooperation Adviser in the office of the prosecutor Fatou Bensouda says prosecution is left with few vital pieces of evidence to submit before court by Mid-March of 2018.

Dahirou says the evidence is contained in testimonies of 16 witnesses programmed to appear in court in early next year.

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Dahirou explains that prosecution is relying on 116 witnesses including 76 who testified as in-court witnesses. Three others will testify as expert witnesses to re-affirm Ongwen's mental health status to stand trial for the counts slapped on him.

Among those who have testified were seven forced wives of Ongwen who pinned him for sexual and gender based crimes. Others include senior Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) intelligence officers and commanders, ex-LRA fighters, senior government administrators namely Gulu Resident district Commissioner, Captain Santos Okot Lapolo.

Testimonies of a batch of 40 witnesses were tendered in court as pre-recorded evidence which judges of the court will evaluate at the tail end of prosecution witnesses.

When prosecution concludes submission, the legal team representing victims will present its evidence which will then be followed by the defense team. Dahirou says Dominic Ongwen's Defence has until December 14th this year to provide court with provisional information related to the number of witnesses and evidence they intend to call in defence of the accused.

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A panel of three judges led by presiding judge Bertram Schmitt, a German jurist is handling the trial of Dominic Ongwen. The others are Judge Peter Kovacs from Hungary and Judge Raul C. Pangalangan from the Philippines.

At least 4,100 victims have applied to take part in the trial which commenced on December 6, 2016. 

Dominic Ongwen was born in 1975 in the village of Coorom in Amuru district in northern Uganda. He is a former commander of the Sinia Brigade of the LRA, having been abducted and forcefully conscripted into the rebel army in 1999 when he was walking to school. He rose through the ranks, becoming a “Major” at the age of 18 after winning the confidence of Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA.

It is alleged that he was the commander who led the attacks in Pajule Internally Displaced Peoples' (IDP) camp in October 2003, Odek IDP in April 2004, Lukodi IDP in May 2004 and in Abok in June 2004. He surrendered to the army in the Central African Republic (CAR) and was transferred to the custody of the ICC in January 2015, where he is standing trial.

The LRA killed more than 100,000 people, abducted more than 60,000 others and displaced more than 1.8 million people from their homes, mainly in Acholi and Lango sub-regions of northern Uganda.

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