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ICC: First Lord’s Resistance Army trial set to begin

By News24 5 December 2016

Cape Town – The trial of a Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongweni is set to begin on December 6 at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

Earlier this year, the ICC confirmed at least 70 charges against the notorious army commander for crimes committed in Uganda, including keeping sex slaves and recruiting child soldiers.

Known  as the “White Ant” in his native Acholi language, Ongweni was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role from 2002 to 2005 in the rebel group’s reign of terror in northern Uganda, led by its fugitive chief Joseph Kony.

Ongweni would be the first LRA member to face trial at the ICC, set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes.  HRW said that his charges would be read, followed by opening statements from the prosecution lawyers who represented several thousand victims involved in the case.  The case would then be adjourned until January 16, 2017, when the prosecution will begin to present its evidence.  “The ICC trial of Dominic Ongweni is a significant first on justice for LRA atrocities, said Elise Kepler, associate international justice director at HRW.”The LRA leadership is reviled worldwide for its brutality against African, but never before has an LRA commander faced trial,” she said. Ongweni himself was abducted as a child, at the age of 9, and later became a senior LRA commander. The LRA has committed atrocities against civilians for nearly three decades. The armed group has abducted tens of thousands of children for use as soldiers and sexual slaves, and killed and maimed thousands of civilians in remote regions of northern Uganda, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic.

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