Ongwen parts ways with lawyer

Dominic Ongwen

What you need to know:

  • To that effect, Ongwen who is serving a 25-year-jail term in the Hague for committing atrocities in northern Uganda during the two-decade insurgency led by Joseph Kony, has since hired another defence lawyer of Cameroonian origin, Mr Charles Achalette Taku.

The former rebel commander with the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), Dominic Ongwen, has parted ways with his lead defence counsel, Krispus Ayena Odongo, due to communication breakdown.

To that effect, Ongwen who is serving a 25-year-jail term in the Hague for committing atrocities in northern Uganda during the two-decade insurgency led by Joseph Kony, has since hired another defence lawyer of Cameroonian origin, Mr Charles Achalette Taku.

“Mr Krispus Ayena Odongo’s request for leave to withdraw as counsel for Mr Ongwen in the above mentioned appeal is granted. The Registry is directed to take all necessary steps to facilitate the prompt appointment,” ruled Justice Liz Del Carmen Ibanez Carranza on June 7.

Court documents at the International Crimes Court (ICC) show that on June 1, Mr Ayena filed a request under Regulation 78 (1) of the regulations of the court in which he requested to withdraw as counsel for Ongwen in his appeal proceedings.

Further, court documents show that on the same date, Mr Taku filed a notification before the Appeals Chamber in which he indicated that Ongwen had agreed to appoint him as his new lead defence counsel to replace Mr Ayena for the remaining appeal proceedings.

“Mr Taku stated that communication between Mr Ayena and Ongwen ‘has completely broken down’. Mr Taku further submits that the composition of the legal team representing Ongwen will not change and that given the team’s familiarity with the case, the change of counsel will not disrupt or occasion any delays in the present proceedings,” reads in part the court documents.

Mr Taku has been part of Ongwen’s team.

When this publication contacted Mr Ayena, he confirmed his withdrawal from representing Ongwen.

“I felt I had done my part. I was already losing valuable clients due to long absence. I, therefore, voluntarily withdrew my services since we are just waiting for the appeal judgment...” Mr Ayena said.

Mr Taku revealed that he had already met with Ongwen to come up with a new programme. “I met Ongwen yesterday (Monday) and I perused his file of appeal,” Mr Taku said on Tuesday.

Background

On May 6, 2021, the Trial Chamber sentenced Ongwen to 25 years of imprisonment after he had earlier in Feburary that same year, been found guilty of 61 offences comprising crimes against humanity and war crimes that he committed against the civilian population in northern Uganda in the early 2000s. But Ongwen has since appealed the 25-year jail term.

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