THE HAGUE DECEMBER 6, 2016 (CISA) – Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen has today appeared at International Criminal Court (ICC) over war crimes and crimes against humanity.
He faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including; murder, pillage and enslavement, in northern Uganda and neighbouring countries and faces life in prison if convicted, reported, The Guardian.
Ongwen was among the most feared leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which is blamed for the deaths of about 100,000 people and the abduction of 60,000 children across Central Africa.
The specific charges read out in the court focused on a series of attacks on refugee camps between 2004 and 2005, but Ongwen has also been blamed for scores of other atrocities.
One of the worst involved a four-day raid by the LRA on camps in north-eastern Congo in December 2009, in which about 350 civilians were killed and another 250, including at least 80 children, were abducted.
Ongwen has pleaded not guilty and told the court the charges should be brought against the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony, not him. According to his legal team, he is a perpetrator and a victim.
Ongwen was a child soldier and is believed to have been abducted by the LRA when he was ten years old as he walked to school in northern Ugandaand later rose to become a top commander.
He was accused of crimes against humanity, including enslavement leading to ICC issuing an arrest warrant against him in 2005 but was rumoured to have been killed in the same year.
The US offered $5m (£3.3m) reward for information leading to his arrest in 2013 and hee was captured in the Central African Republic in January 2015.
He is said to be the deputy to LRA commander Joseph Kony, who is still on the run. The LRA rebellion began more than two decades ago in northern Uganda with estimated 200-500 fighters – many of them child soldiers.