ICC sentences ex-LRA rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen to 25 years in jail

Dominic Ongwen is the first LRA commander to appear before the International Criminal Court, courtesy |BBC

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced the ex-commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Dominic Ongwen to 25 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Uganda in early 2000s.

The notorious LRA’s senior officer received the jail sentence at the Hague-based court on Thursday. Ogwen was, in February convicted of 61 charges including rapes, murders, and enslavement.

Some of the victims’ families had asked the court to consider full sentence for Dominic the crimes committed under his command were horrible. ICC does not give death penalty, the maximum jail term for the crimes like the ones Ongwen is guilty of is life imprisonment.

Ongwen’s defense lawyers had asked the court to consider less sentence for him given the condition he went through as a child soldier. Ongwen, also known as ‘White Ant,’ was abducted by LRA as he was walking to school in northern Uganda. He was aged between 9 to 14 years when he fell into the hands of rebels who later turned him into a ruthless person.

He told prosecutors that he was the first victim of abduction.

Al Jazeera quoted him as saying, “I am before this international court with so many charges, and yet I am the first victim of child abduction. What happened to me I do not even believe happened to Jesus Christ.

Judges said in their verdict in February that Ongwen personally ordered his soldiers to carry out mass killings of more than 130 civilians at the Lukodi, Pajule, Odek, and Abok refugee camps between 2002 and 2005, Al Jazeera reports.

Ongwen surrendered has been in custody since 2015 – the year he surrendered to US special forces who were pursuing LRA in Central Africa Republic.  

The time Ongwen has been in custody, since January 2015, will be deducted from the 25-year jail term, ICC Judge Bertram Schmit said, according to Bloomberg news.

LRA was founded 30 years by Joseph Kony to fight against President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The rebellion has widely been wiped out of  Uganda and its leader , Kony is hiding in unknown location.