ICC Ongwen trial resumes at Hague

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Dominic Ongwen during pre-trial proceedings at the International Criminal Court

The trial of the Lord’s Resistance Army commander, Dominic Ongwen, resumes today, Monday May 29, 2017 at The Hague after a three-week recess.

Ongwen, the abducted child soldier is being tried for crimes against humanity, perpetrated under the leadership of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army [LRA] warlord, Joseph Kony.

The Ugandan national army [UPDF] recently withdrew some of its troops hunting Kony in Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Despite an international arrest warrant for the LRA’s leadership, only one LRA member is currently standing trial at the International Criminal Court.

Ongwen, 40s, handed himself over and went on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands, on 6 December 2016.

He faces an indictment of 70 charges, thereby making him the accused charged with the most number of grievous international crimes.

ICC Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, described him as a “murderer and a rapist” for the attack against the civilian population; murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; destruction of property; pillaging; the conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities.

He is also accused of murder and attempted murder; torture; sexual slavery; rape; enslavement; forced marriage as an inhumane act; persecution; and other inhumane acts.

According to the ICC, the charges relate largely to Ongwen’s time as the commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s (LRA) Sinia Brigade.

“The confirmed charges concern crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed during attacks against the Pajule IDP (October 2003), Odek IDP (April 2004) Lukodi IDP (May 2004) and Abok IDP camps (June 2004), as well as sexual and gender-based crimes directly and indirectly committed by Dominic Ongwen and crimes of conscription and use in hostilities of children under the age of 15 allegedly committed in northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005,” ICC statement read.

Ongwen is the first LRA commander, as well as the first LRA member, to appear before the ICC, out of an original indictment of five senior LRA members.

The ICC opened the investigation against the rebel movement in 2004 after Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni asked the ICC to start an investigation.

The primary accused in the ICC Uganda case, LRA founder and leader, Joseph Kony, is still at large. The co-accused, Raska Lukwiya and Okot Odhiambo, have died.

The case against Kony’s deputy, Vincent Otti, is still open, even though he is widely reported to have died in 2007.