KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The International Criminal Court's prosecutor said on Friday that more time is needed to gather evidence against a Ugandan rebel commander who faces trial at The Hague court.
Fatou Bensouda told reporters in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Friday that the evidence against Dominic Ongwen is incomplete and that she has requested a three-month extension to confirm charges.
The court had previously said confirmation hearings against Ongwen — who was transferred to The Hague in the Netherlands last month — would happen in August.
Bensouda said the extension is necessary "in light of the many years that have passed" since Ongwen's indictment in 2005.
Ongwen faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, pillage and enslavement for his alleged role in a reign of terror by the Lord's Resistance Army that has spanned more than 25 years in central Africa.
"The additional time requested can also be of assistance to Mr. Ongwen in preparing his defense," she said. Ongwen is to be defended by a Ugandan lawyer.
Bensouda said she is visiting Uganda to "reestablish contacts" with Ugandans who may be witnesses in the case. On Saturday she is to travel to northern Uganda to visit some of the scenes of massacres carried out by the Lord's Resistance Army, which is no longer active in Uganda but still operates in parts of Congo and Central African Republic.
Before the rebels were ousted from northern Uganda in 2005, their deadly raids on villages forced nearly 2 million people to seek refuge in camps. Thousands were killed or abducted by the rebels, who took boys to become fighters and girls to become sex slaves. Ongwen says he was himself abducted as a 14-year-old boy in 1988.
In 2005 Ongwen was one of five LRA commanders, including warlord Joseph Kony, indicted by the ICC for their alleged roles in massacres of civilians. Three others have since died, according to the Ugandan military. Kony is the only one who remains at large.