Ugandan rebel leader convicted of war crimes

Ugandan rebel leader convicted of war crimes
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The International Criminal Court on Thursday convicted a commander in the Lord's Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group, on dozens of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Dominic Ongwen, who was abducted into the group as a child and rose to become one of its most brutal leaders, faces life in prison after being found guilty on 61 charges. The conviction stems from crimes he committed from 2002-2005, including murder, torture, enslavement, rape and forced marriage.

The judgement can be appealed.

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Ongwen’s defense had argued that he was a victim who suffered from mental illness, but the court rejected those arguments.

“The Chamber found that Dominic Ongwen is fully responsible for all these crimes. The Chamber 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 International Criminal Court (ICC) said Thursday in announcing the conviction.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is one of the most notorious rebel groups in Africa, led by the Joseph Kony, who remains at large. The group was founded as an anti-government group and has a presence in several central African countries after being forced out of Uganda in 2005.

Ongwen was arrested in the Central African Republic in 2015.

“The LRA terrorized the people of northern Uganda and its neighboring countries for more than two decades. One LRA leader has at last been held to account at the ICC for the terrible abuses victims suffered,” Elise Keppler, associate director of the International Justice Program of Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press.