LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen’s ICC Trial Begins Today

LRA top commander Dominic Ongwen will today appear before a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court at The Hague, for his initial appearance.

Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen

An official statement by the ICC indicates that during the initial appearance hearing, the single Judge Ekaerina Trendafiloya will verify the identity of the suspect and the language in which he is able to follow the proceedings. He will then be informed of the charges against him.

Ongwen, who was captured in CAR about a fortnight ago, was transferred to the ICC on 20 January 2015 following an arrest warrant issued by the Court on 8 July 2005 for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

He will be tried under the same case file opened by the Prosecution against him, Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and Okot Odhiambo the LRA’s second in command on charges allegedly committed in 2004 in Northern Uganda.

Ongwen, now the first Ugandan to be tried at the ICC is accused of four counts of war crimes (murder; cruel treatment of civilians; intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population; pillaging) and three of crimes against humanity, including murder, enslavement, inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering.

The LRA launched a rebellion against the Uganda government in mid 1980s and earned a reputation for carrying out massacre and mutilating victims. The group is also accused of using child soldiers and underage girls as sex slaves.

The LRA left Uganda a decade ago and is currently operating in parts of South Sudan, DR Congo, Sudan and CAR.

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