from HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) – THE verdict on a leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) raises hopes of justice for victims of atrocities the rebel group perpetrated in Uganda.
Dominic Ongwen is the first leader of the group on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), with a verdict due on February 4.
“The fact the ICC will soon issue the verdict in its first trial of an LRA leader is important progress toward holding accountable a rebel group that has caused mayhem in Uganda and several nearby countries for years,” said Elise Keppler, associate International Justice director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
LRA originated in northern Uganda in 1987 .
Ongwen, the only LRA leader charged by the ICC in custody, was a senior commander of the extremist group.
He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery and torture.
The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, is an outstanding fugitive.
Three other people charged are declared to be or presumed dead.
Thousands of Ugandan civilians were either killed by the LRA or during fighting with Uganda’s armed forces.
More than 1,9 million people were displaced.
LRA kidnapped some 25 000 Ugandan children, primarily for use as soldiers, or to be forced into child marriages with LRA commanders.
– CAJ News