The court hearing against the former Lord Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Dominic Ongwen who is in ICC custody starts today at The Hague.
Ongwen who was the commander of the Sinia Brigade of the LRA rebel group had been in the ICC custody since 21st January 2015 after his surrender on 16th.
Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Field outreach coordinator for Kenya and Uganda said today that all the court proceedings will be relayed live so that people in various parts of Uganda get involved.
She said the court hearing that starts at 12pm Uganda time and will take 8 hours for 5 days till 27th.
Kamara noted that the victims of the atrocities are all fully and legally represented in the court. And all the court proceedings will be relayed live for the victims in Northern Uganda at selected places for the 5 days.
“This is not a trial but just a start to find out whether Ongwen has committed the alleged crimes or not”, she emphasized.
She said after the 5 days court hearing, the court will within 60 days come out with a ruling of either declining the charges against Ongwen, Confirming all the charges basing on evidences or adjourning the hearing.
“If all charges are confirmed, trial will proceed and a new set of judges will be composed in the court,” she added
In September last year the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court aaded additional 60 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Dominic Ongwen which marked a significant expansion of the charges against Ongwen, and potentially a greater opportunity for reconciliation in affected communities in Northern Uganda.
Ongwen was originally charged with seven counts; three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, enslavement, and inhuman acts) and four counts of war crimes (murder, cruel treatment of civilians, intentionally attacking a civilian population, and pillaging) allegedly committed in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Gulu district.
Ongwen will be charged will 67 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The new 60 charges will include sexual and gender based crimes as well as crimes related to the conscription and use of child soldiers.
The geographic scope of the charges against Ongwen has also been extended beyond crimes he allegedly committed in the Lukodi IDP camp in Gulu, to include alleged crimes in the Odek IDP camp in Gulu, the Pajule IDP camp in Pader, and the Aboke IDP camp in Apac district.
By Allan Richard Odoch