THE HAGUE, 4 February 2021 – Ex-Ugandan child soldier and rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen, was convicted Thursday of war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Hague-based court will hand down a sentence on a later date, but more analyst believe he could face life imprisonment.
The ICC found him guilty of 61 of the 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and also convicted him for forced pregnancy, a legal first.
The charges relate to attacks that Lord Resistance Army (LRA) forces under his command launched against four camps for internally displaced people in Uganda in 2004.
Ongwen, himself, was abducted by the RLW and forced to serve as a child soldier, before going on to become a commander under Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, rumored to have died of COVID-19 a few weeks ago.
Lawyers for Ongwen played up the fact that he was a victim.
“Straight away we can say without mincing words that we are definitely going to appeal on all charges,” said Ongwen’s lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo.
Ayena Odongo told the BBC Thursday that the verdict “landed like a bombshell”.
The associated director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch, Elise Keppler, welcomed the convictions, calling the case “a milestone as the first and only LRA case to reach a verdict anywhere in the world”.
More than 4,000 victims provided testimony in the ICC case.
Some of the former abductees who gathered in Gulu, northern Uganda to watch the guilty verdict, disagreed with the ICC on the convictions, recalling that some LRA rebels were granted amnesty and shielded from prosecution.
One former abductee said the ICC failed to recognize that Ongwen was not captured, but handed himself over.