Prosecutor: Ongwen went from child soldier to 'tip of the spear' of LRA

21 January 2016 by Stephanie van den Berg, The Hague (The Netherlands)

The confirmation of charges hearing of former Lord's Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen started before the International Criminal Court (ICC) 21 January.
Prosecutor Benjamin Gumpert painted a harrowing picture of a victim and former child soldier Dominic Ongwen [IJT-174] who turned into a perpetrator himself. Ongwen went on to play a “crucial” role in the LRA's practice of abducting children, some as young as six years old, to be used as child soldiers and women and girls to be used as sex slaves or so-called  forced wives of LRA fighters.

Dominc Ongwen at the ICC for his confirmation of charges hearing (Photo: Twitter/ICC)
Image caption: 
Dominc Ongwen at the ICC for his confirmation of charges hearing (Photo: Twitter/ICC)

Gumpert explained that the prosecution will rely on four witnesses who will give first-hand evidence of their abduction and their experiences as a child soldier at the hands of Ongwen. One of the victims is a woman who was taken by the LRA when she was just ten years old.

“[Dominic Ongwen] personally trained this girl and many others on how to use their guns,” Gumpert told the court. 

He explained that the LRA forced recent child recruits to take part in atrocities “to convince them they were so steeped in blood” that return to civilian life was impossible. Ongwen, faces 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, torture, sexual enslavement and the recruitment and use of child soldiers. 

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