The trial of former Lord`s Resistance Army (LRA) commander of the Sinia brigade Dominic Ongwen is expected to commence today16th January 2017.

Ongwen is being charged with seventy counts of crimes before the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague.

His charges include war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 2002 and 2005 on the Pajule Internally Displaced Persons camp (IDPs), October 2003, the Odek IDP camp, April 2004, the Lukodi IDP, May 2004 and June 2004.

Others are sexual crimes, slavery, rape, forced marriage among others.

During his opening trial on the 6th of December 2016 Ongwen pleaded not guilty of the charges before court.

Mrs. Kamara Maria Mabinty the ICC outreach officer for Kenya and Uganda said the trial would resume today when the prosecution will begin to present its evidence and calling witnesses before the judges.

At least 4,107 victims have been admitted to participate in the case. 2,605 of these are represented by Joseph Akwenyu Manoba and Francisco Cox, the representative of the victims. The remaining 1,502 victims are represented by Paolina Massidda, the common legal representative of Victims.

Background

The warrant of arrest was issued on 8 July 2005 and unsealed on 13 October 2005. Ongwen is in the Court’s custody.

Dominic Ongwen is allegedly responsible for seven counts of crimes allegedly committed on or about 20 May 2004 at the Lukodi IDP Camp in the Gulu District, Uganda, being three counts of crimes against humanity: murder, enslavement, inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering; and four counts of war crimes: murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population, and pillaging.

In issuing the warrant of arrest, Pre-Trial Chamber II found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that, during the period from 1 July 2002 to an unspecified date in 2004, the LRA, an armed group, allegedly carried out an insurgency against the Government of Uganda and the Ugandan Army (also known as the Uganda People’s Defence Force – UPDF – and local defence units – LDUs).

There are reasonable grounds to believe that the LRA had been directing attacks against both the UPDF and LDUs and against civilian populations, and that, in pursuing its goals, the LRA had engaged in a cycle of violence and established a pattern of “brutalization of civilians”. This had been carried out by acts including murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, and mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements. Civilians, including children, are believed to have been abducted and forcibly “recruited” as fighters, porters and sex slaves to serve the LRA and to contribute to attacks against the Ugandan army and civilian communities.

On 21 December 2015, the Prosecutor charged Dominic Ongwen with crimes in addition to those set out in the warrant of arrest: a total of seventy counts. The additional charges related to attacks on the Pajule IDP camp, the Odek IDP camp and the Abok IDP camp. The counts brought against the suspect in the context of these attacks include attacks against the civilian population, murder, attempted murder, torture, cruel treatment, other inhumane acts, enslavement, outrages upon personal dignity, pillaging, destruction of property, and persecution. The expanded charges against Dominic Ongwen also include sexual and gender-based crimes committed from 2002 to 2005 in Sinia Brigade – forced marriage, rape, torture, sexual slavery, and enslavement – and the conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities from 2002 to 2005, in Sinia Brigade.