Surrendered LRA commander held by international court

AP News
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Posted: Jan 17, 2015 11:38 AM
Surrendered LRA commander held by international court

BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — A commander of a notorious Ugandan rebel group was turned over to the International Criminal Court Saturday and is expected to be flown to Netherlands to face international war crimes charges, following his surrender in a remote corner of Central African Republic, authorities said.

Dominic Ongwen is in the custody of the ICC, according to a tweet by organization Saturday. He is expected to be flown to The Hague later Saturday, according to Ghislain Grezengue, the chief prosecutor in Central African Republic. Ongwen was under guard by United Nations forces currently in the country to stabilize it after months of sectarian violence left thousands dead.

The International Criminal Court's warrant of arrest for Ongwen lists seven counts including crimes against humanity, enslavement, murder and inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury.

Ongwen, a longtime leader within the Lord's Resistance Army, surrendered earlier this month to U.S. troops in a remote eastern part of Central African Republic near the border with Uganda. The rebel group is blamed for slaughtering countless civilians since the 1980s and forcing many others into slave labor. Its leader Joseph Kony remains at large.

Ongwen was flown to Bangui, Central African Republic's capital, on Friday aboard an American plane under heavy guard by both American and Central African security personnel, said Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda, the Ugandan army spokesman.

"He belongs to ICC. Our focus now is hunting down the last man standing: Joseph Kony," Ankunda said.

Joseph Kony is the only LRA commander still at large out of five LRA commanders indicted by ICC in 2005. Three have since died, the Ugandan army said.

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Associated Press writer Risdel Kasasira in Kampala, Uganda contributed to this report.