ICC rejects motion to acquit Ongwen
Judges of the International Criminal Court [ICC] have refused to grant defence its request to dismiss some of the charges brought against former Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] fighter, Dominic Ongwen.
On 5 July 2018, the defence for Mr Ongwen (‘Defence’) requested leave to file a ‘no-case-to-answer’ [NCTA] and judgment of acquittal motion.
On 12 July 2018, the Office of the Prosecutor and Legal Representatives of Victims filed responses opposing the relief sought in full.
The Chamber emphasises from the outset that the Request is not a so-called NCTA motion. Rather, it is a request for leave to file such a motion.
The Court’s legal texts do not explicitly provide for a NCTA procedure, nor does international human rights law necessarily require such a procedure in order to protect the rights of the accused.
This was filed after a prior request for directions on the possibility of a no-case-to answer motion was rejected.
Nevertheless, a trial chamber may decide to conduct such a procedure based on its power to rule on relevant matters pursuant to Article 64(6)(f) of the Statute and Rule 134(3) of the Rules.
A decision on whether or not to conduct a NCTA procedure is thus discretionary in nature and must be exercised on a case-bycase basis in a manner that ensures that the trial proceedings are fair and expeditious pursuant to Article 64(2) and (3)(a) of the Statute.
Two past ICC cases have called for a NCTA procedure or something functionally similar to it.
As noted by the Prosecution, the Chamber has previously rejected such arguments both for being untimely and on their merits.
In particular, both this Chamber and the Pre-Trial Chamber have emphasised the significant distinction between being informed of the charges and the confirmation decision’s reasoning.
As for the arguments about Mr Ongwen’s involvement in the alleged planning of the Pajule attack, even if the Defence could persuade the Chamber that evidence was lacking on these points, this would not meaningfully affect the scope of the trial.
Mr Ongwen is charged with attacking Pajule under several alternative modes of liability,13 not all of which necessarily require him to be involved in a common plan or be in a position of authority.
In other words, the Defence’s proposed arguments in relation to Pajule would not lead to removing any of the charges related to this alleged incident.
Further, the Defence alleges that other specific circumstances of this case justify initiating a NCTA procedure. The Chamber is again unpersuaded. 13. First, the Defence makes reference to the format of this trial arguably being adversarial in nature.
“Taking into account all the Defence arguments and the circumstances of the case, the Chamber does not consider that a NCTA procedure would further the fair and expeditious conduct of the proceedings,” the judges ruled.
Judges visit Uganda
From 3 to 9 June 2018, the judges of Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, Judge Péter Kovács, and Judge Raul C. Pangalangan, visited the Republic of Uganda.
The Chamber, which is trying the case of The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen, visited the charged attack sites in the case.
The Chamber visited Pajule, Odek, Lukodi and Abok. At the time of the alleged attacks, IDP camps were located at each of these locations.
The trial in the case of The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen opened on 6 December 2016.
Dominic Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda.
The Prosecution has completed its presentation of evidence, and the Legal Representatives of Victims also called witnesses to appear before the Chamber.
The trial will resume on 18 September 2018 with the opening statements of the Defence and the Defence will start the presentation of its evidence on 27 September 2018.