By Tom Maliti
International Criminal Court (ICC) judges
have rejected a motion Dominic Ongwen’s legal team filed asking them to dismiss
11 counts of sexual and gender-based crimes Ongwen is alleged to have directly
In an October 8 unanimous decision, Trial Chamber IX rejected the defense
motion because it was late. The judges said they were not convinced by the
reasons the defense gave for filing the motion, which came more than three
years after Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed the 11 counts of sexual and
gender-based crimes Ongwen is alleged to have directly committed.
Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed these charges
in its March 23, 2016 decision in which Ongwen was charged with a total of 70
counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is alleged to have
committed these crimes in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005.
Ongwen has pleaded not guilty to the counts.
their October 8 decision, Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt and Judges Peter
Kovács and Raul C. Pangalangan also said the defense did not offer the chamber
any reason why the defense’s September 20 motion should be considered when
Trial Chamber IX and the Appeals Chamber dismissed a similar motion the defense
filed earlier this year.
“For these reasons, the Chamber considers
that the arguments presented in the Motion are untimely and that no exceptional
circumstances justify their consideration at this point in time. Therefore, the
arguments are dismissed in limine,” said the
judges. Dismissing the defense motion in limine means
the judges rejected it without considering the arguments the defense made about
the 11 counts of sexual and gender-based crimes.
its October 8 decision, Trial Chamber IX also ordered that the submissions
different parties and participants made on the defense motion either should be
made public or a public redacted version be filed.
On September 20, Krispus Ayena Odongo,
Ongwen’s lead lawyer, filed a motion in which he argued that the 11 counts of
sexual and gender-based crimes against Ongwen should be dismissed because they
did not include details of where the crimes are alleged to have occurred.
Odongo argued this lack of detail affected how Ongwen prepared his defense,
infringing on his fair trial rights.
further his argument, Odongo highlighted the details of the charges involving
Witnesses P-099, P-101, and P-214. The motion, however, is silent on the other
witnesses covered by the same 11 counts of sexual and gender-based crimes. The
other witnesses include P-226, P-227, P-235, and P-236.
The prosecution asked the chamber to dismiss
the defense motion in its September 24 response. Lawyers representing two groups of victims in
the Ongwen trial both urged the chamber to dismiss the defense motion. The
Common Legal Representative for Victims filed their response on September 27. The Legal
Representatives for Victims filed their response on September 30.
In February this year, the defense filed a motion asking the chamber to dismiss 41 counts of
war crimes and crimes against humanity Ongwen has been charged with. The
defense argued those charges against Ongwen were defective. Trial Chamber IX
rejected the defense motion, and the Appeals Chamber upheld that decision in a July 17 judgement.
This was first published on the International