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.
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. 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. Uganda People's Defence Force spokesperson Maj. Felix Kulayije commented, "Unfortunately, the bastard is still alive."
On March 8, 2014 Kidego Quinto met with Ongwen in South Sudan and informed him he could safely surrender to the US forces. His camp was attacked during the meeting causing him to return to the bush. On December 18, 2014 Kidego Quinto and an American named Jason approached him again to surrender. Finally on January 6, 2015, Ongwen disappeared from his camp. He was captured by members of the Seleka rebel group while on his way to surrender to US forces. They handed him over to the Americans in the Central African Republic. The Americans handed Ongwen over to the Ugandan military, who in turn handed him over to the Central African Republic forces who sent him for trial for crimes against humanity at the ICC.
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.
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.
Notes and references
- Arrest Warrant for Dominic Ongwen (public and redacted PDF), International Criminal Court, 8 July 2005
- "The complex story of a child soldier," by Ledio Cakaj, Washington Post, 12 January 2015
- Submission of Information Regarding Dominic Ongwen (PDF), ICC, 5 October 2005
- Picking up the Pieces IRIN documentary, October 2007
- ICC Unseals Results of Dominic Ongwen DNA Tests, ICC Press release, 7 July 2006 and ‘Dead’ LRA chief alive, New Vision, 10 July 2006
- Chothia, Farouk Profile: Dominic Ongwen of Uganda's LRA BBC News, Africa, Retrieved 14 January 2015
- LRA commander Dominic Ongwen 'in Ugandan custody' BBC News, Africa, Retrieved 14 January 2015
- "Ugandan LRA rebel commander Dominic Ongwen to be tried at ICC: army," Daily Nation, 13 January 2015
- Dominic Ongwen reveals why he left Joseph Kony retrieved 6 March 2015
- Ongwen urges LRA comrades to surrender New Vision, 13 January 2015, retrieved 6 March 2015
- Surrendered LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen Says He Didn’t Want to Die in Bush TIME, 19 January 2015, retrieved 6 March 2015
- First Ugandan suspect, LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen, appears before the ICC Women's initiatives for gender justice 6 March 2015
- Ongwen case: Confirmation of charges hearing postponed to 21 January 2016 ICC 6 March 2015