ICC sentences Uganda’s Dominic Ongwen to 25 years in prison

Former Ugandan rebel commander Ongwen has been sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes including rape, sexual enslavement, child abduction, torture, and murder.

The Hague-based court announced Thursday that the Trial Chamber found him guilty for a total of 61 crimes comprising crimes against humanity and war crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005.

“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.” ICC said after the ruling

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

Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, read a summary of the Chamber’s decision. He highlighted that the Chamber was confronted in the present case with a unique situation.

“It is confronted with a perpetrator who wilfully 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.” He said

The court noted that in making its determination, the Chamber analyzed one-by-one the gravity of each of the 61 crimes for which Dominic Ongwen was convicted, finding several aggravating circumstances applicable to some or even most crimes.

“Aggravating circumstances included particular cruelty, multiplicity of victims, the victims being particularly defenseless, and discrimination on political grounds and discrimination against women.” It said after the guilty verdict was delivered.

“The Chamber imposed individual sentences for each crime, taking the mitigating circumstance of Dominic Ongwen’s childhood and abduction by the LRA into due account. The highest individual sentences were of 20 years. Other sentences pronounced for individual crimes were of 14 or 8 years of imprisonment.” It added

At the same time, the Chamber decided to give certain weight in mitigation to the circumstances of Dominic Ongwen’s childhood, his abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at a very young age and his early stay with the LRA.

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.

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.


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