Press Release: 17 July 2019

Ongwen case: ICC Appeals Chamber confirms the Trial Chamber’s decision on motions requesting dismiss of the charges


Today, 17 July 2019, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (« ICC » or « Court ») delivered its judgment unanimously rejecting the appeal of Mr Dominic Ongwen and consequently confirming Trial Chamber IX's decision of 7 March 2019, entitled 'Decision on Defence Motions Alleging Defects in the Confirmation Decision'. Judge Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza, presiding in this appeal, read a summary of the judgment in open court.

Trial Chamber IX had rejected, on 7 March 2019, four defence motions alleging defects in the confirmation of charges decision and requesting that the Trial Chamber dismiss the charges and modes of liability which he alleged were deficient and violated his fundamental fair trial right to notice.

The Appeals Chamber found that since the challenges in the four motions were directed against purported errors and flaws in the charges, as set out in the Confirmation Decision, the Trial Chamber was correct in finding that the issues raised by Mr Ongwen would thus have fallen to be determined in the period prior to the commencement of the trial. They therefore fell within rule 134(2), rather than rule 134(3) of the Rules and Mr Ongwen could not raise these issues without the leave of the Trial Chamber.

In the view of the Appeals Chamber, imposing such time limits that foreclose parties from raising issues if they were not raised in time does not lead to unfairness to the accused person. Rather, such time limits are applied in search of expeditiousness in the trial proceedings.

The Appeals Chamber further found that the Trial Chamber was correct when it determined that no concrete objection or challenges were made at the commencement of the trial, such as those raised in the four motions, despite the fact that Mr Ongwen had ample opportunity to do so. It held that the Trial Chamber was also reasonable in determining that Mr Ongwen did not advance any reasonable justification for raising challenges to the Confirmation Decision before the Trial Chamber more than three years after that decision was issued. With respect to Mr Ongwen's jurisdictional challenges contained in the four motions, the Appeals Chamber noted that the Trial Chamber correctly found that article 19(4) of the Statute 'requires jurisdictional challenges to take place prior to or at the commencement of the trial' and that Mr Ongwen failed to justify any exceptional circumstances for raising such arguments at this time.


Summary of the Judgment

Background: 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. On 18 September 2018, the defence for Mr Ongwen opened its case.

For further information on the case, click here.

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