Uganda: ICC Throws Out Dominic Ongwen’s Appeal – Upholds 25 Year Sentence

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The International Criminal Court appeals chamber has thrown out an appeal by former LRA rebel commander Dominic Ongwen challenging the 25 year sentence.

The Hague based court last year convicted Ongwen and consequently sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed during the insurgency in Northern Uganda.

The former rebel commander also nicknamed the “White Ant appealed against the conviction and sentence citing legal, factual and procedural errors.

On Thursday, the appeals chamber of the court threw out his appeal.

“The appeals chamber rejects all the defense’s grounds of appeal and confirms unanimously the conviction decision,” Presiding Judge Luz del Carmen Ibanez Carranza said.

The appeals chamber rejected the 90 grounds of appeal raised by Ongwen of violations to his right to a fair trial and other human rights, as well as his challenge to the trial chamber’s findings on his individual criminal responsibility as an indirect perpetrator and as an indirect co-perpetrator, setting out in this regard the parameters of these modes of liability.

In addition, the appeals chamber of the ICC confirmed the Trial Chamber’s interpretation and factual findings concerning sexual and gender-based crimes, including the crime of forced marriage as a form of other inhumane acts and the crime of forced pregnancy.

The appeals court further confirmed the cumulative convictions entered by the trial chamber, noting that each provision which has a “materially distinct” element protects different legal interests.

The court also examined the trial chamber’s findings on grounds for excluding criminal responsibility and concluded that Ongwen’s had not demonstrated any error in relation to the trial chamber’s findings rejecting the grounds for excluding criminal responsibility by way of mental disease or duress.

The court therefore upheld ICC’s original 25-year prison sentence that Ongwen had appealed.

The Ugandan government in 2005 referred five top LRA leaders including Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Dominic Ongwen and Odhiambo Okot to the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda.

However, of these, only Ongwen and Kony are still alive with the rest believed to have been killed.

Ongwen became the first LRA commander to be tried, convicted, and sentenced for charges related to the Northern Uganda insurgency before the ICC.

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