The International Criminal Court in The Hague sentenced Dominic Ongwen to 25 years imprisonment on the basis of 61 charges.
Ongwen was commander of the Lord‘s Resistance Army (LRA), the Uganda terror group of Joseph Kony. Ongwen was found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in February.
The court took into account the mitigating circumstance that Ongwen himself was a child slave. That’s why he wasn‘t sentenced to life imprisonment. An earlier statement made by Ongwen about his childhood, in which he told us that he was abducted by the Resistance Army at the age of nine and made a child slave, made a great impression on the court.
The Ugandees was abducted by the LRA in 1998 on their way to school and was forced to fight as a child soldier against the government army of Uganda. Over the years Ongwen became increasingly important within the Resistance Army and eventually became Kony’s right hand.
The struggle of the Resistance Army killed tens of thousands of people. The rebel group is suspected of inflicting serious mutilations, such as cutting off limbs, and kidnapping thousands of children who were subsequently deployed as child soldiers or sex slaves.
In 2003, the Ugandan government turned to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. That initiated an investigation into the terror group. A year later, a warrant was issued against five leaders. Only Ongwen and Kony were alive from them.
Kony, despite many searches, was never found. Ongwen finally reported himself to the authorities in the Central African Republic. Upon his arrest, he would have said that he did not want to die in the jungle and to respond to the ICC‘s call. Since 2015 Ongwen has been in prison in Scheveningen.
Ongwen says he’s innocent himself. According to his lawyer, he was a victim, and he had no choice. “If you are captured as a child by Joseph Kony, you cannot become a perpetrator. The actions you carry out are not yours, but of the Resistance Army,” the lawyer said earlier to International Justice Monitor.