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ICC Upholds Conviction Of Ugandan Former Child Soldier

The International Criminal Court on Thursday threw out an appeal by Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan child soldier-turned-commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, against his conviction and 25-year sentence for war crimes, IgbereTV reports 

Dominic Ongwen, who was himself abducted aged nine by the rebel group led by the fugitive Joseph Kony, was found guilty last year of murder, rape and sexual enslavement in northern Uganda during the early 2000s.

“The appeals chamber unanimously rejects all the grounds of appeal” against his conviction, said Judge Luz del Carmen Ibanez Carranza. One ground of appeal against his sentence was rejected by majority and the rest unanimously.

Dressed in a dark suit and tie, Ongwen briefly waved to the public gallery but otherwise remained impassive as he listened through headphones to the judgment.

Appeals judges said that although Ongwen had been kidnapped as a “defenceless child” it did not mitigate his guilt. They also rejected his arguments about mental illness, and said he had a key role in LRA atrocities as an adult.

The LRA was founded three decades ago by former Catholic altar boy and self-styled prophet Joseph Kony, who launched a bloody rebellion in northern Uganda against President Yoweri Museveni.

Defence lawyers argued earlier this year that Ongwen, who is believed to be in his mid-40s but whose birth date remains unclear, had been scarred by his own experience as a youth in the LRA.

“Dominic Ongwen was, and still is, a child,” Ongwen’s defence lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo told the court in February, adding that Ongwen still believed he was “possessed” by the spirit of Kony

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