Ongwen trial: Mental health experts to testify on November 18

By Benjamin Jumbe

The International Criminal Court Trial Chamber IX has scheduled hearings in the last two weeks of November for defense mental health experts to explain why, in their opinion, Dominic Ongwen had a mental illness.

This is for the specific period that he has been charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Describing the upcoming evidence of the defense mental health experts as of “high importance,” the chamber says, in an October 1st decision, that these experts will testify between November 18 and November 22.

The chamber also decided the prosecution may call a rebuttal witness to testify on either November 25 or November 26. The judges said that if the defense so wishes they could call a rejoinder witness to testify on either November 28 or November 29.

The defense team argues that Ongwen is not responsible for the crimes he has been charged with because he had a mental illness or defect during the period he is alleged to have committed those crimes.

Last year, the prosecution called two psychiatrists and a psychologist to show the court that Ongwen can be held responsible for the crimes he has been charged with. The prosecution expert witnesses were psychiatrist Gillian Clare Mezey; psychiatrist Catherine Abbo; and psychologist Roland Weierstall.

Mezey testified on March 19 and 20 2018. Abbo testified on March 26 to 28, 2018. While Weierstall testified on April 11 and 12, 2018.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity he allegedly committed as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army between July 2002 and December 2005 in northern Uganda.

He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.