ICC Hands 28 Years to LRA Rebel Commander Dominic Ongwen

Dominic Ongwen

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced Uganda’s rebel, Dominic Ongwen to a  total period of imprisonment of 25 years for crimes he committed as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Ongwen was a Brigade Commander of the Sinia Brigade of the LRA and has been charged with 61 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed after 1 July 2002 in Northern Uganda,

Ongwen who was dressed in a red tie and a grey coat stood up guarded by two court security guards to listen to his sentence which was translated in his mother tongue by a court translation service.

“The Trial Chamber IX sentences Dominic Ongwen to a total period of imprisonment of 25 years as a joint sentence for the 61 crimes of which he was found guilty,” Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, read his sentence on May 6, 2021 at the Hague.

The court said the period of his detention between 4 January 2015 and 6 May 2021, will be deducted from the total time of imprisonment imposed on him.

The Chamber rejected the Defence’s arguments, recalling its analysis of evidence in the Judgment issued on 4 February 2021, and considered that the mitigating circumstances of substantially diminished mental capacity and duress are not applicable.

During the hearing, the Chamber also rejected the arguments of the Defence concerning traditional justice mechanisms, noting that there exists no possibility under the Statute to replace a term of imprisonment with traditional justice mechanisms, or to incorporate traditional justice mechanisms into the sentence in any other way.

Considering his plea as a former abductees of the LRA, Judge Bertram Schmitt said the Chamber was confronted in the present case with a unique situation.

“It is confronted with a perpetrator who willfully and lucidly brought tremendous suffering upon his victims. However, it is also confronted with a perpetrator who himself had previously endured extreme suffering himself at the hands of the group of which he later became a prominent member and leader,” the judge said.

The sentence may be appealed before the ICC Appeals Chamber by either party to the proceedings.




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