Dominic Ongwen, a former Lord’s Resistance army commander.
Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen, has appealed against the confirmation of 70 charges against him over the atrocities committed in northern Uganda, barely 10 days after the historic decision by the International Criminal Court.
Ms Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC outreach officer for Kenya and Uganda says Mr Ongwen has raised five grounds to support his appeal before he is committed to trial.
“On March 30, the defense of Dominic Ongwen requested for leave to appeal the decision of confirmation of charges against their client,” says Kamara.
Ongwen says the Pre-Trial Chamber II erred when it refused to exclude non-translated statements and transcripts. He also faults the judges for failing to consider evidence presented by his defense lawyers regarding his age.
He also accuses the chamber of deciding that article 25 (3)c of the Rome Statute does not require a substantial- contribution to the crime. The former LRA commander says the chamber erred when it decided that forced marriage was not subsumed by the crime of sexual slavery.
The Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court confirmed all the 70 charges brought by the Prosecutor against Dominic Ongwen and committed him to trial before a Trial Chamber.
If his appeal fails, Ongwen will become the first person before the ICC to face charges of forced marriage, and also the first person to stand trial for forced pregnancy under international criminal law. Judges deemed the Court to have jurisdiction over forced marriage as a crime separate from sexual slavery.
The Chamber concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that Ongwen is responsible, pursuant to articles 25(3) (a) (direct perpetration, indirect perpetration and indirect co-perpetration), 25(3) (b) (ordering), 25(3) (d) (i) and (ii) and 28(a) (command responsibility) of the Rome Statute, for the following crimes against humanity and war crimes:
· War crimes: attack against the civilian population; murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; destruction of property; pillaging; the conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities;
·Crimes against humanity: murder and attempted murder; torture; sexual slavery; rape; enslavement; forced marriage as an inhumane act; persecution; and other inhumane acts.
The confirmed charges concern crimes allegedly committed during attacks against the Pajule IDP (October 2003), Odek IDP (April 2004) Lukodi IDP (May 2004) and Abok IDP camps (June 2004), as well as sexual and gender-based crimes directly and indirectly committed by Ongwen and crimes of conscription and use in hostilities of children under the age of 15 allegedly committed in northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005.
The Chamber based its decision on the evidence presented to it by the Prosecutor and by the Defence which included (i) witness statements or transcripts of interviews of a total of 123 witnesses; (ii) records of intercepted LRA radio communications; and (iii) oral testimonies of seven witnesses given before Single Judge Cuno Tarfusser under article 56 of the Rome Statute in the presence of the Prosecutor and the Defence in September and November 2015.
Ongwen was allegedly Commander in the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The warrant of arrest for Dominic Ongwen, issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II under seal on July, 8, 2005 and unsealed on October, 13,2005. Mr Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC on January, 16, 2015 and was transferred to the ICC custody on January, 21, 2015. The confirmation of charges hearing in this case was held from January 21 to 27 2016.