The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday, has convicted a former Ugandan child soldier who became a commander of the rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Dominic Ongwen, 45, was found guilty of 61 charges over a reign of terror in the early 2000s, including the first conviction by the ICC for the crime of forced pregnancy.
The court said Ongwen ordered attacks on refugee camps as a senior commander in the LRA, which under its fugitive chief Joseph Kony waged a bloody campaign in four African nations to set up a state based on the Bible’s Ten Commandments.
Ongwen, nicknamed “White Ant”, was convicted of charges including murder and the killing of babies, torture, rape, sexual enslavement and the conscription of child soldiers, for which he had denied all the charges.
Judges rejected defence arguments that Ongwen was himself a victim, as he had been abducted by the LRA at the age of around nine and suffered psychological damage as a result.
“The chamber is aware that he suffered much,” Judge Schmitt said. “However this case is about crimes committed by Dominic Ongwen as a responsible adult and a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army LRA.
The presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said,“His guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt,” as he read out the verdict in the tribunal in The Hague.
Human Rights Watch said the case was a landmark in achieving justice for victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The LRA was founded three decades ago by former Catholic altar boy and self-styled prophet Kony, who launched a bloody rebellion in northern Uganda against President Yoweri Museveni.
The United Nations says the LRA killed more than 1,00,000 people and abducted 60,000 children in a campaign of violence that spread to three other African nations namely Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.