All is set for the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen with three judges assigned to handle the case at Trial Chamber Nine.
The presiding judge is Bertram Schmitt and will be assisted by Raul Pangalangan and Peter Kovacs in the trial that kicks off on December 5th 2016.
According to a statement issued by the ICC, the opening statements will take about two days before the trial is adjourned until 16th January 2017 when witnesses will be called in.
On 23 March 2016, Pre-Trial Chamber II confirmed the 70 charges brought by the Prosecutor against Dominic Ongwen, as alleged former Commander in the Sinia Brigade of the LRA, and committed him to trial.
The confirmed charges concern crimes against humanity and war 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.
Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC on 16 January 2015 pursuant to an ICC warrant of arrest and transferred to the Court’s custody on 21 January 2015.
Meanwhile, the Court’s Registrar is expected in Abok in northern Uganda this week to interact with government officials, NGOs and victims of the alleged atrocities.
When a trial starts, the charges will be read out to the accused, who will then be asked to confirm his understanding of the charges, and to either plead guilty or not guilty.
During the trial, the Prosecution and Defence each present their cases, and the Legal Representatives of Victims present the victims’ views and concerns.
Ongwen faces the maximum sentence of 30 years imprisonment or in extreme circumstances, life imprisonment in case of a guilty verdict.
The judges may also render a decision on reparations for victims.