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Former Uganda Militia Commander Is Convicted of Battle Crimes

A former Ugandan insurgent who was kidnapped as a baby by the infamous Lord’s Resistance Military and later rose to be a commander of the militia was convicted of battle crimes and crimes in opposition to humanity on Thursday on the Worldwide Legal Court docket in The Hague.

The defendant, Dominic Ongwen, was a 9-year-old on the way in which to his village college in the summertime of 1988 when armed L.R.A. fighters grabbed him and spirited him off to their camp, the place he was overwhelmed, threatened and skilled as a baby soldier.

Now in his 40s, he faces life in jail for costs together with rape, pressured marriages, torture, enslavement and a number of murders. His case has stirred debate amongst legal professionals and worldwide legislation consultants, as a result of the younger Mr. Ongwen was a sufferer of among the similar crimes he was accused of.

His is the primary trial of a high commander of the Lord’s Resistance Military, a bunch that waged a violent marketing campaign throughout Uganda and a number of other neighboring international locations from the mid-1980s till only a few years in the past. The case delivered to gentle a wealth of particulars about how the fighters brutalized and mutilated their perceived enemies. Greater than four,000 victims have been acknowledged as “contributors” within the case.

“It is a milestone for the victims of a lot brutality,” Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch, who has lengthy studied the insurgent group, stated earlier than the decision was delivered. “Justice is so laborious to attain. That is the primary alternative for folks to see these infamous crimes recorded and judged earlier than a court docket.”

Throughout a four-year trial on the I.C.C., Mr. Ongwen’s lawyer argued that as a younger boy, his shopper was so brutalized by militia fighters who turned him into “a preventing machine” that he by no means discovered to tell apart proper from incorrect.

The prosecution countered that he by no means tried to flee his captors, in contrast to so many different boys and males. As a substitute, prosecutors stated, he adopted orders and relished his function, climbing the ranks to change into one of many rebels’ high commanders.

He was accused of personally main raids through which his brigade looted property and animals, burned houses and kidnapped adults and kids to used as pressured labor. Boys have been skilled as fighters and ladies have been exploited as intercourse slaves and home staff.

The decision capped a trial through which scores of witnesses — each former troopers and their victims — gave their variations of Mr. Ongwen’s function within the insurgent military campaigns in opposition to hundreds of villagers whom the militiamen noticed as authorities supporters and enemies.

The L.R.A.’s bloody rampages and its elusive chief, Joseph Kony, are infamous.

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