The former Commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Dominic Ongwen, was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity on Thursday, after the International Criminal Court found him guilty of 61 out of 70 crimes.
The presiding judge at the trial, Bertram Schmitt, ruled that Ongwen had ordered the murder and kidnapping of individuals, including children, as well as having committed crimes ranging from murder and rape to torture, slavery and the use of child soldiers.
“There exists no ground excluding Dominic Ongwen’s criminal responsibility”, Schmitt said, adding that “his guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt.”
As an individual who was himself forced by rebels to become a child soldier, Ongwen’s trial marks the first time the ICC has convicted an individual who both committed and was the victim of the same war crimes.
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After rising up through the ranks, Ongwen became a commander and the deputy to then-LRA leader Joseph Kony, who became well known around the world after an American charity, Invisible Children, launched Kony 2012, a campaign to hold him accountable for his alleged crimes and human rights violations in Uganda.
When the trial began in 2016, Ongwen pleaded not guilty, and has repeatedly denied the charges. He will be sentenced at a later date. Due to the nature of his crimes, he faces life in prison.
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