The International Criminal Court on Thursday convicted a former commander in the notorious Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army of dozens of war crimes and crimes against humanity ranging from multiple murders to forced marriages.
Dominic Ongwen, who was abducted by the shadowy militia as a 9-year-old boy and transformed into a child soldier and later promoted to a senior leadership rank, will be sentenced at a later date. He faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
The judgment outlined the horrors of the LRA’s attacks on camps for displaced civilians in northern Uganda in the early 2000s, and of Ongwen’s abuse of women forced to be his “wives”. Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said that Ongwen’s history as an abducted child turned fighter could be considered at the sentencing stage of the trial.
But he made clear: “This case is about crimes committed by Dominic Ongwen as a fully responsible adult as a commander of the LRA in his mid- to late 20s.”
Defence lawyers had argued that Ongwen was a “victim and not a victim and perpetrator at the same time.”