LRA commander Ongwen due to appear in Hague court
TOP Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen is due to appear at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to face war crimes charges.
A leader of the Lords Resistance Army, he is accused of four war crimes counts and three of crimes against humanity, including murder and enslavement.
His trial will be the first time that a member of the LRA has faced international justice.
The LRA is accused of seizing children to use as fighters and sex slaves.
An ICC statement says that the judge at Monday’s pre-trial appearance of Mr Ongwen will verify the suspect’s identity and inform him of the charges against him in a language that he will understand.
The prosecution is not expected to formally put its case at this stage.
Mr Ongwen, a feared commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), was arrested after giving himself up in the Central African Republic last month.
Last week he was taken into custody at the International Criminal Court (ICC).
His transfer “brings us one step closer to ending the LRA’s reign of terror”, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement last week.
Uganda agreed that Mr Ongwen should be tried by the ICC despite being a fierce critic of The Hague-based court.
US and African forces had been searching for him since 2011.
He is said to be the deputy to LRA commander Joseph Kony, who is still on the run.
The UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon both welcomed Mr Ongwen’s transfer from the Central African Republic.
The former child soldier said that after years of hiding in the forests it was time to face the charges against him.
His extradition comes nearly 10 years after he and four other LRA top commanders were charged. Three have since died and only Mr Kony remains at large.
Mr Ongwen is accused of committing atrocities against civilians in Uganda and in parts of Central African Republic, South Sudan and DR Congo.
The LRA rebellion began more than two decades ago in northern Uganda and its estimated 200-500 fighters – many of them child soldiers – have since terrorised large swathes of central Africa.
Who is Dominic Ongwen?
Said to have been abducted by LRA, aged 10, as he walked to school in northern Uganda
Rose to become a top commander
Accused of crimes against humanity, including enslavement
ICC issued arrest warrant in 2005
Rumoured to have been killed in the same year
US offered $5m (£3.3m) reward for information leading to his arrest in 2013.