By Susan Kendi
The Dominic Ongwen trial resumes on January 28, 2019 after judges at the International Criminal Court granted his lawyers request for a two-week adjournment.
Trial Chamber IX judges Bertram Schmitt (presiding), Raul Pangalangan and Peter Kovacs, ruled to adjourn the trial to “facilitate an examination of the accused by the Defence experts” but said they were not persuaded by the Defence request for their medical experts to examine. The judges said the Defence had previously used the same experts to argue that the accused was not fit to stand trial, but the court had declined to entertain that argument at the beginning of the trial.
Ongwen’s lawyers filed the adjournment request on January 10, 2019 but the prosecution and victim lawyers opposed the request. Trial Chamber IX approved the request a day after its filing.
The Court said that it would nevertheless allow for a two-week adjournment to ensure that Ongwen receives any necessary medical treatment, directing that the medical officer of the detention centre provides an assessment report by January 23, 2019 on whether the accused is able to participate in the proceedings.
The court rejected the second part of the Defence’s request to “adjourn the proceedings for the purpose of a medical examination,” citing that there were no compelling facts to show that Ongwen is unable to participate effectively in the hearings.
The judges added that from their observation, Ongwen called his counsel during the testimony of witnesses in order to instruct them and frequently reacted to the answers provided by the testifying witnesses, which proved that he followed the proceedings and could process what was being said in court.