Ex-child soldier Dominic Ongwen appears before the International Criminal Court
A former militia leader from northern Uganda has denied committing war crimes including rape and murder, on the opening day of his trial at the international criminal court at The Hague, saying that as a child soldier taken by force from his home by the organisation he was a victim of its atrocities, not a perpetrator.
Dominic Ongwen, once a feared commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army, told judges in a dramatic outburst that he was “one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities”. He said: “In the name of God, I deny all these charges.”
The trial of is one of the most momentous in the ICC’s 14-year history, and raises difficult questions of responsibility and blame. Ongwen, who is between 35 and 40 years old, is the first former child soldier to face trial at the controversial institution and the first defendant to be both alleged perpetrator and victim of the same crimes.
A court official needed almost 20 minutes to read the 70 charges against Ongwen. They included murder, attempted murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery and, for the first time, “forced pregnancy” and “forced marriage”.
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This is an article by Jason Burke which appears on the Guardian.