Feb 2, 2015 5:56 AM
Uganda pledges full cooperation with ICC on rebel's case
The Associated Press
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) Uganda has assured the International Criminal Court of "full cooperation" on the case of a Ugandan rebel commander who faces trial at the international court, the country's attorney general said Monday.
Uganda's government would help with investigations as well as identifying potential witnesses for Dominic Ongwen's case, Peter Nyombi told reporters in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. A team from The Hague is traveling to Uganda next week to consult with officials, he said.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been critical of the international court, calling it an imperialist tool of the West and urging African countries to stage a mass exit from the court over allegations it has unfairly targeted Africans over the years.
Nyombi said, however, that Uganda believes it's "more convenient" for the ICC to try Ongwen.
"The ICC may want us to assist them in accessing certain witnesses .... We are establishing a technical committee for that purpose," he said.
The ICC has set Aug. 24 as the date for a hearing to assess if evidence is strong enough to merit a full trial.
Ongwen faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, pillage and enslavement for his alleged role in a reign of terror by warlord Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army that has spanned more than 25 years in central Africa's Great Lakes region.
The armed group originated in Uganda in the 1980s as a popular tribal uprising against the government but has often taken advantage of porous borders across the region to hide and regroup amid an international hunt for its fugitive leaders.
At the peak of its powers, the Lord's Resistance Army was notorious for abducting boys who became fighters and girls who were turned into sex slaves, one reason for the group's international notoriety. Ongwen, who became a ruthless rebel commander and one of Kony's top lieutenants, was himself abducted as a 14-year-old boy in northern Uganda.