Uganda militant, former child soldier Dominic Ongwen found guilty of war crimes

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Feb. 4 (UPI) — The International Criminal Court on Thursday found a former Ugandan militia leader and child soldier guilty of committing war crimes in the mid-2000s.

Dominic Ongwen, a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army from 2002 to 2005, was convicted on 61 charges ranging from murder, rape, sexual slavery, abduction and torture.

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“Ongwen is fully responsible for all these crimes,” the court wrote.

The ICC said Ongwen committed the crimes as part of the LRA’s attacks in Uganda and neighboring Central African countries.

“These crimes were committed in the context of the armed rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army against the government of Uganda,” the court noted.

Defense attorneys argued that Ongwen was forced to become a child soldier by the LRA at the age of 10, became traumatized and could not be held responsible. When Ongwen first faced the ICC in 2016, he said he was victimized by the LRA.

Under the leadership of Joseph Kony, the militant group became one of the most notorious and wanted militias in Africa. It often attacked refugee camps, abducted women and girls and turned many children into foot soldiers.

Prosecutors acknowledged that Ongwen became a child soldier against his will, but argued that he later did the same thing to many other children under the age of 15. They also said he’d had numerous opportunities to leave later on, but didn’t.

“[We] did not find evidence that supported the claim that he suffered from any mental disease or disorder during the period relevant to the charges or that he committed these crimes under duress or under any threats,” the ICC added.

Ongwen faces up to 30 years in prison when he’s sentenced this spring.