ICC trial of Uganda war crimes suspect begins at Hague

Dominic Ongwen, ex-Lord’s Resistance Army commander, faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity

ICC trial of Uganda war crimes suspect begins at Hague

World Bulletin / News Desk

The International Criminal Court at the Hague heard disturbing accounts from survivors against Dominic Ongwen, a former Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) commander, whose trial began on Monday.

ICC Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt heard the case against Ongwen, who faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Prof. Tim Allen, director of the Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa and head of the department of international development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told the ICC that a young man at an internally displaced camp in Gulu in northern Uganda said he had to kill someone, but when “he refused, he was severely beaten, including the person he had to kill who was eventually killed.

“The severed head [of the person he was told to kill] was tied around his neck and he was forced to carry it with him until he killed someone himself.”

Allen added: “People who don’t work fast enough or refused to obey orders were severely beaten and in many cases were killed; many of those who survived were drawn into violence acts,” according to live proceedings of the court available on the ICC website.

Thousands of young children between the ages of 12 to 18 had been allegedly abducted by the Joseph Kony-led rebel group. “Abducting of young people was a deliberate strategy to inculcate them into the violence,” the court was told.

The court also heard that Kony, who was then supported by the Khartoum government, believed he was a “freedom fighter.”

Kony also denied any responsibility of the alleged crimes associated with him, terming it as propaganda by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s government. “He said that abduction of children and violent acts were untrue. But said there might as well have been terrible acts on both sides,” Allen said.

An estimated 40,000 people were abducted by the LRA. By the end of late 1980s and early 90s, many people were displaced from their villages, totaling around 1.5 million by 2004.

Museveni had launched several operations against LRA, including Operation North between 1991 and 1992. In 2002 and 2004, the president launched another Operation Iron Fist.

Later, the U.S. put the LRA group on its list of global terrorist organizations. “The Ugandan government with about 10,000 troops was then allowed to operate in the South Sudan border to attack the LRA,” Allen said.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Ocak 2017, 00:36