A former Ugandan rebel commander has been convicted of war crimes at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Dominic Ongwen, a child soldier-turned-Lord’s Resistance Army commander, faced 70 charges over a reign of terror in the early 2000s.
The LRA’s fugitive chief Joseph Kony waged a bloody campaign from 2002 to 2004 in northern Uganda.
The ICC convicted Ongwen of 61 of the 70 charges against him.
The 45-year-old’s crimes include murder, torture, enslavement, rape, and forced pregnancies, the court said.
The case was the first at the ICC to involve an alleged perpetrator and victim of the same war crimes, with Ongwen himself having been abducted by the rebels as a child while on the way to school, according to his defense.
A former commander of LRA’s Sinia Brigade, Ongwen told the court he was abducted from his home by LRA fighters when he was 14.
“We recognize that there may be thought to be something of a paradox in the fact that the stories told by so many of the witnesses in this case could in other circumstances be the story of Dominic Ongwen himself,” prosecutor Benjamin Gumpert said during the trial.
“But this is no reason to expect that crimes can be committed with impunity. We have a choice as to how we behave, and when that choice is to kill, to rape and to enslave, we must expect to be held to account.”
Ongwen, nicknamed “White Ant”, is also the first LRA member to face justice at the tribunal in The Hague or anywhere else over the bloodshed that stretched across four African nations.