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Ex-LRA commander Dominic Ongwen surrounded by court guards and his defence lawyer at the ICC (Flickr/ICC-CPI)
28 January 2015 by Tjitske Lingsma, The Hague (The Netherlands)

Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), made his first appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday for a pretrial hearing. What now? IJT asked two experts what they expected of this first ICC case against a former child soldier-turned-perpetrator.

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Former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen at the start of his ICC trial in 2016 (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
15 March 2018 by Tjitske Lingsma, The Hague (The Netherlands)

The prosecution is wrapping up its case against Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army almost a year after the trial started at the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the coming weeks they will call three experts who have assessed whether Ongwen suffered a mental disorder at the time of the alleged atrocities which destroyed his capacity to understand he committed crimes. 

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People watching the opening of Dominic Ongwen's trial in Lukodi, the site of the largest single massacre by the LRA which features in the charges against Ongwen (Photo: Flickr/ICC-CPI)
19 January 2017 by Stephanie van den Berg

This week the trial of Dominic Ongwen [IJT-196] resumed in The Hague with the first witnesses testifying before the ICC. So far it is the prosecution setting up its case with expert witnesses on Ugandan history and the emergence of the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA) and army officials on how the radio intercepts of LRA communication worked.

IJT spoke with Ledio Cakaj, a researcher who has spent the last eight years interviewing hundreds of former LRA members, fighters, abductees and abductees-turned-fighters like Ongwen to understand how the LRA functions. He is also the author of the book “When the Walking Defeats You: One man's journey as Joseph Kony's bodyguard” which came out late last year. We asked Cakaj his views on the Ongwen case and the upcoming trial of Thomas Kwoyelo [IJT-192], another former LRA commander, in Uganda itself. Are these trials justice being done or were Kwoyelo and Ongwen just convenient defendants?

 

 

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

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LRA child memorial (Photo: Flickr/Josh Zakary)
21 February 2015 by Samuel Egadu Okiror, Kampala (Uganda)

Uganda's decision to support the transfer of Dominic Ongwen [IJT-174] to the International Criminal Court (ICC), instead of trying the notorious Lord's Resistance Army commander at home, casts a shadow on the county's ability to hold domestic war crimes trials.

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15 December 2010 by Leiuh Asuman Wakida and Priscilla Nadunga

Almost seven years after Uganda gave the names of the top Lord’s Resistance Army commanders to the International Criminal Court, the country remains divided as to which path should be taken towards justice. Some Ugandan public figures are again calling for the formation of a truth and reconciliation body.

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Ex-LRA commander Dominic Ongwen makes his first appearance at the ICC (Flickr/ICC-CPI)
28 January 2015 by Samuel Egadu Okiror, Kampala (Uganda)

The handover of Dominic Ongwen, a notorious Ugandan commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), to the International Criminal Court (ICC) has raised debate on whether he should face trial or be pardoned.

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Painted portrait of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (Flickr/home_of_chaos)
13 January 2015 by Samuel Egadu Okiror, Kampala (Uganda)

The Ugandan military on Tuesday announced that notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen would be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Dominic Ongwen