ICC sentences Ugandan rebel leader to 25 years in prison

The Nation  |  May 06, 2021

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday sentenced Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier-turned rebel commander, to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

In February this year, Ongwen, 46, commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which wreaked havoc in northern Uganda during the 1990s and early 2000s, was found guilty of 61 offences, including murder, rape, and torture, committed by his militia group.

Presiding judge, Bertram Schmitt, highlighted that the Chamber was confronted with a unique situation in the present case. “It is confronted with a perpetrator who willfully and lucidly brought tremendous suffering upon his victims,” according to an ICC statement.

"However, it is also confronted with a perpetrator who himself had previously endured extreme suffering himself at the hands of the group of which he later became a prominent member and leader.

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"The Chamber decided to give certain weight in mitigation to the circumstances of Dominic Ongwen's childhood, his abduction by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) at a very young age and his early stay with the LRA."

Out of the four senior LRA leaders – Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, and Ongwen – indicted by the ICC more than a decade ago, only Kony and Ongwen are still alive.

Kony remains elusive despite a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture. But, unconfirmed reports claim Kony might have died in the Central African Republic.

The LRA rebel outfit terrorized communities in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.

It ravaged northern Uganda for two decades, killing thousands, raping women, abducting children and displacing thousands.

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