Dominic Ongwen

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Dominic Ongwen was the commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group founded in northern Uganda. As the head of one of the four LRA brigades, Ongwen was a member of the "Control Altar" of the LRA that directs military strategy. Ongwen was the lowest ranking of the five LRA leaders for whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued their first ever warrants in June 2005. He is charged with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.[1]

At the age of 10, Ongwen was abducted by the LRA as he walked to school, and subsequently indoctrinated as an LRA fighter.[2]

Ongwen was reported killed in combat with a unit of the Uganda People's Defence Force on October 10, 2005, and the identity of the body was confirmed by former LRA commanders.[3] However, in July 2006, the ICC reported that genetic fingerprinting of the body confirmed that it was not that of Ongwen. News reports at this time put Ongwen in southwest Equatoria, Southern Sudan, attempting to rejoin LRA head Joseph Kony in Garamba, Ituri Province, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ongwen and a former wife featured in a film Picking up the Pieces by IRIN and released in October 2007.[4] Uganda People's Defence Force spokesperson Maj. Felix Kulayije commented, "Unfortunately, the bastard is still alive."[5]

On January 6, 2015, Ongwen escaped detention by Joseph Kony for assistance he was shown to be providing to the SPLA-IO. He was informed by Kony's uncle, Kidego Quinto, and an American that the US would treat him humanely if he surrendered. He was captured by a Seleka rebel group while on his way to surrender to US forces. They handed him over to the Americans[6] in the Central African Republic. The Americans handed Ongwen over to the Ugandan military,[7] who in turn handed him over to the Central African Republic forces who sent him for trial for crimes against humanity at the ICC.[8]

After his arrest and before his transfer to the ICC Ongwen participated in several media activities including a radio broadcast, meetings with journalists and a video recording in which he reveals why he gave himself up.[9][10][11]

On 26 January 2015, Ongwen made his first appearance before the ICC.[12]

On 6 March 2015, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC postponed the commencement of the confirmation of charges hearing to 21 January 2016 in order to allow the Prosecutor to prepare adequately for the hearing and to comply with the Chamber's instructions.[13]

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