Dominic Ongwen

A team of American Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) officers are set to jet into the country later this week to help with investigations in relation to the trial of ex-LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen.

According to sources, the group will carry out investigations in Northern Uganda, after the International Criminal Court (ICC) recommended that Ongwen’s ‘confirmation of charges’ hearing be held in Gulu.

Ongwen, who is currently being held at the ICC Detention Facility in The Hague, Netherlands, is accused of committing atrocities during the twenty-four year Lords Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion in Northern Uganda, in which many were killed and hundreds of thousands others injured or displaced.

Ongwen, who is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, was indicted in June 2005 together with four other senior LRA officers including their leader Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, Vincent Otti and Raska Lukwiya. The LRA is an outlawed rebel outfit which has wreaked havoc in the East and Central African region, prompting the intervention of the US, which has sent several dozen military experts to try and capture the LRA leader Kony.

In May 2010 US President Barack Obama signed the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) Act and Northern Uganda Recovery Act to support armies in the East and Central Africa region to end the atrocities of the LRA.

Following the ensuing and sustained pressure Ongwen decided to surrender but before he could get to the Americans he was captured early in 2015 by the Seleka rebels in the Central Africa Republic (CAR), and handed over to the American military that also handed him over to the CAR government, which then handed him over to the ICC to face trial.

And recently, the Pre-trial Chamber of the ICC recommended to the ICC Presidency that the confirmation of charges hearings against Ongwen be held in Uganda in January 2016, in a bid ‘to bring the Court’s process closer to the communities affected by the alleged crimes’.

It is this development, sources said, that has led the Americans to send the FBI to help with the LRA investigations.

Meanwhile, of the five indicted LRA commanders only two, Kony and Ongwen are still alive, with the former eluding arrest even after the US deployed Special Forces to track him.

 

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