ICC seeks trial of Ugandan rebel commander over war crimes

ICC prosecutors seek trial of Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army ex-commander for war crimes, crime against humanity

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Dominic Ongwen of Uganda stands in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court during the confirmation of charges in The Hague.

International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen on Thursday of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including kidnapping children, and using rape and brutality to use them as sex slaves or child soldiers during its rebellion against the Ugandan government.

Ongwen, himself abducted and raised as a child soldier under Joseph Kony’s rebel group, was formally charged by prosecutors in the Hague-based court.   

The LRA is a militant group which has killed more than 100,000 people and abducted 60,000 children during its bloody war against President Yoweri Museveni’s government, which it began in the name of the Acholi ethnic group in 1986.

Prosecution lawyer Ben Gumpert said Ongwen had “significantly” contributed to “terrifying” bloody attacks on four displaced persons camps assaulted by the LRA.

"Large numbers lost their lives in indiscriminate acts of murder," he said. "Some were tortured in cruel ways. Hundreds were abducted to carry away the loot, and if they could not walk fast enough, they were beaten."

Ongwen, born in 1975, was abducted at the age of 10. He confirmed that he did not need to hear the charges read against him.

"Whether the charges are read or not, it is all going to be a waste of time," he said in his native Achioli language through an interpreter. "You may speak five words and only two are true."

40-year old Ongwen was handed to The Hague last year after he was captured by US special forces in the Central African Republic.

Ex-commander of LRA, Joseph Kony, was also indicted by the court in 2005 and remains one of the world's most notorious fugitives from justice.

Other indicted rebels from LRA group which rose against Ugandan President Yoweri Musuveni in the late 1980s, are believed dead. 

TRTWorld and agencies