Ugandan former rebel commander awaits verdict at ICC

The closing statements at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Uganda-based Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), has ended today, with the defense team submitting its final statements.

Ongwen's attorney, Krispus Ayena Odongo, said the case was against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and that Ongwen did not represent the group.

"Never before has the world witnessed a conflict so profoundly complex in nature as the one that forms the contextual basis as the case before you. This 'boy' [Dominic Ongwen] was a victim, orphan, prisoner of the Lord's Resistance Army, mentally disabled person who escaped the LRA and is now again victimized by proxy-prosecution," the lawyer submitted. A verdict will be delivered by the ICC.

Ongwen was allegedly kidnapped by the LRA and became a child soldier, later perpetrating atrocities as a brigade commander of the group.

Most of the charges against Ongwen focus on attacks on refugee camps between 2002 and 2005.

The case initially included multiple suspects who were key leaders in the LRA, including Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo. However, as Ongwen was the only one captured alive, the Court ruled to start the trial. Otti and Odhiambo were proven dead, while Joseph Kony, the ring leader and one of the ICC's most wanted suspects remains at large.

Ongwen is accused of 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Some 69 prosecution witnesses, 54 defense witnesses and 4,065 victims attended the case.

The case is important in pursuing justice for atrocities committed in northern Uganda by the infamous LRA, in which thousands of civilians were killed and nearly two million displaced by the conflict.

Source: Anadolu Agency