Compiled By Markson Omagor
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen to 25 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity
The ICC handed the sentencing this morning at 11:00 AM, Thursday, 6th May 6, 2021 .
The ICC Trial Chamber IX delivered its sentence three months after it found Ongwen guilty of 61 out of 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, committed between 2002 and 2005 in Northern Uganda.
Ongwen’s conviction and sentence are linked to his direct role in LRA attacks against civilians in former IDP camps of Lukodi, Pajule, Odek and Abok between October 2003 and June 2004.
While delivering the ruling, the Presiding Judge, Bertram Schmitt, said the sentence took into account the circumstances of Ongwen’s childhood and life under LRA captivity.
Ongwen was abducted by the LRA at the age of nine and conscripted into the rebel outfit’s ranks, rising to become a fierce fighter. He was spared the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Bertram said the ICC had to strike a balance between delivering justice for the victims and Ongwen’s personal circumstances that might have played a hand in his transformation.
He was also found guilty to sexual and gender-based crimes committed from 2002 to 2005, while he commanded the LRA’s dreaded Sinia Brigade. The counts include: forced marriage, rape, torture, sexual slavery, and enslavement, all of which he was convicted of.
Ongwen was also convicted for conscripting and using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities from 2002 to 2005, in the Sinia Brigade of the LRA which he commanded.
Describing his trial as a success, Justice Bertram said the sentence would allow Ongwen to live the rest of his life as a reformed person and set an example to others.
Earlier, Prosecutors asked for a 20-year prison term, saying Ongwen’s own history as a schoolboy abducted by the LRA justifies a lower sentence than the maximum 30 years to life allowed by the ICC.
“This is one circumstance that sets this case apart from all the others tried at this court,” ICC prosecution lawyer Colin Black told a sentencing hearing at the Netherlands-based court in April.
The defence on the other hand pleaded for a 10-year prison term for Ongwen, who went by the nom de guerre “White Ant” during attacks by his soldiers on refugee camps in northern Uganda.
Victims of his crimes asked the court to impose the full life sentence.