Victim or perpetrator?

Uganda : Former LRA leader/child soldier Dominic Ongwen found guilty by ICC

By Jeune Afrique

Posted on February 9, 2021 08:55

Firefox_Screenshot_2021-02-09T06-51-19.840Z Dominic Ongwen in The Hague (Netherlands), December 6, 2016 © AP Photo / Peter Dejong, Pool)
Dominic Ongwen in The Hague (Netherlands), December 6, 2016 © AP Photo / Peter Dejong, Pool)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has delivered its verdict on the former Ugandan child soldier who became one of the leaders of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

“His guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt,” said presiding judge Bertram Schmitt, who delivered his verdict on Thursday 4 February against 45-year-old Dominic Ongwen.

Ongwen was charged with misconduct, including murder, rape, sexual enslavement and enlisting child soldiers.

Trial Chamber IX of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found the accused guilty of a total of 61 crimes committed in Northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005.

Joseph Kony’s deputy

Nicknamed the “white ant”, he was prosecuted for his involvement in a series of massacres perpetrated in the 2000s by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), then led by Joseph Kony.

READ MORE Ugandan rebel commander’s ICC pre-trial set for Thursday

Since its creation, the LRA has killed more than 100,000 people in Central Africa and abducted more than 60,000 children, according to the UN. Ongwen is the first member of this rebel group to appear before the court.

The accused denied “in the name of God” the charges against him. His lawyers have said that they will appeal the court’s decision, pointing out that Ongwen himself has been a victim of the LRA’s brutality from a very young age.

Victim or perpetrator?

The five-year-long trial at the ICC is unique as it is the first time that a person has appeared before the court as both a victim and an alleged perpetrator of war crimes and crimes against humanity, as Ongwen was abducted as a child by the LRA on his way to school.

“The chamber is aware that he has suffered much,” said Judge Schmitt. “However, this case is about crimes committed by Dominic Ongwen as a responsible adult and commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army.”

READ MORE Uganda: No amnesty for captured LRA rebel

The ICC has not yet determined Ongwen’s sentence. He will have up to 30 days to appeal the court’s verdict.

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