International Criminal Court Sentences Ugandan Rebel Commander to 25 Years in Prison

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on May 6 has sentenced a former Ugandan child soldier who became a rebel commander to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

According to the ICC, the 25-year sentence handed to Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Leader Dominic Ongwen “adequately reflects the strongest condemnation by the international community of the crimes” and “acknowledges the great harm and suffering caused to the victims.”

The ruling followed the trial judgement where Ongwen was found guilty last Feb. 4 for a total of 61 crimes, including murder, rape, and torture.

“Dominic Ongwen fully intended all of these crimes. He played a key role in their commission, he participated in the planning and personally took part in it. It was he who decided to launch the attacks, he selected the fighters and issued the specific instructions ahead of each attack,” the ruling stated.

The ICC declined to sentence Ongwen with life imprisonment, the court’s harshest punishment, considering his own personal suffering after being abducted by the LRA as a nine-year-old schoolboy.

The ICC “is confronted with a perpetrator who willfully and lucidly brought tremendous suffering upon his victims. However, it is also confronted with a perpetrator who himself had previously endured extreme suffering himself at the hands of the group of which he later became a prominent member and leader,” the court said in a statement.

“The Chamber decided to give certain weight in mitigation” to Dominic’s individual circumstances, the ICC further stated.

Ongwen’s case is the first at the ICC in which the perpetrator is also a victim of the same war crimes.

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