The International Criminal Court sitting in Hague has convicted former Lord’s Resistance Army commander, Dominic Ongwen of crimes against humanity committed during the insurgency in Northern Uganda.
Nicknamed Ongwen also nicknamed the “White Ant”, was facing 70 charges stemming from offences committed while serving as a commander in the rebel outfit commanded by Joseph Kony but on Thursday was found guilty of 61 charges .
“There exists no ground excluding Dominic Ongwen’s criminal responsibility. His guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt,” presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said .
“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”.
The court threw out Ongwen’s defence that he was abducted as a nine year old boy and brainwashed to join the reel outfit and was therefore a victim of circumstances.
The court ruled that evidence produced by the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that the 45-year-old former LRA commander committed the atrocities out of his own will.
The ICC also threw out Ongwen’s claims that he was not mentally stable.
“The chamber did not find evidence for the claim by the defence that he suffered from any mental disease or that he committed the crimes under duress.”
The court is now expected to pronounce itself on the punishment to be given to Ongwen having been convicted.
The Ugandan government in 2005 referred five top LRA leaders including Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Dominic Ongwen and Odhiambo Okot to the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda.
However, of these, only Ongwen and Kony are still alive with the rest believed to have been killed.
Ongwen becomes the first LRA commander to be tried for charges related to the Northern Uganda insurgency before the ICC.