Krispus Ayena Odongo, the Defense Lawyer for Dominic Ongwen has raised a total of 90 grounds of appeal against the conviction and 11 grounds against the sentencing of Ongwen.
Dominic Ongwen, the former Commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army –LRA was on May 6th, 2021, sentenced to 25 years in jail by the International Criminal Court –ICC Trial Chamber IX after convicting him on 61 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The crimes were committed in Northern Uganda between July 1st, 2002, and December 31st, 2005.
Ayena raised the grounds of appeal before the ICC’s Appeals Chamber during the hearing of the appeals five-day proceedings that kicked off on Monday afternoon being presided by Judge Luz del Carmen Ibanez Carranza.
Some of the grounds he raised to challenge the Trial judgment include; the Chamber’s error in law and fact by conducting proceedings based on a Confirmation of Charges Decision which was legally defensive and failed to provide a reasoned opinion, violation of Ongwen’s right to notice by expanding the material, temporal and geographic scope of the charges beyond the parameters of the charged crimes and relying on evidence of acts not charged, causing prejudice and making the trial unfair.
Ayena also noted that the Chamber erred in law and fact throughout the judgment by failing to correctly apply the standard of proof of beyond reasonable doubt in assessing the Prosecution evidence as well as all other evidence in convicting Ongwen of crimes and modes of liability, something he says affected the entire judgment, causing miscarriage of justice.
Other grounds also include the alleged failure to adequately address the defenses of mental illness and duress under which Ongwen was operating.
Maria Kamara Mabinti, the ICC Outreach Coordinator for East Africa told URN in an interview that being the largest grounds of appeal ever raised before the Appeals Chamber, the Court has invited Friends of Court to provide their expertise on some of the complex issues raised by Ongwen’s lawyer.
According to Kamara, the appeal hearing will determine whether or not law had been followed by the Trial Chamber and that the judges hearing the appeal were not privy to the matter before.
She added that the possible outcome of the appeal hearing would be to uphold the decision of the Trial Chamber, amend the decision, or in an extreme case, the Appeals Chamber could order for a retrial of Dominic Ongwen.
The hearing of the appeals will end on Friday 18th of this month before the judges retire for deliberation.
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