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LRA fighter denies atrocity charges

LRA fighter denies atrocity charges

Netherlands

The top lieutenant of the Lord’s Resistance Army Dominic Ongwen has pleaded not guilty to charges level against him at the ICC.

Dominic Ongwen faces 70 charges including murder, rape and child kidnapping while fighting in the Lord’s Resistance Army.

He told the court Joseph Kony, not he, was behind the rebel group’s rampage in northern Uganda.

“It was the LRA who abducted and killed people in northern Uganda, and I am one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities,” Ongwen said.

“In the name of God, I deny all the charges in respect to the war in northern Uganda,” he said.

Asked by presiding judge Bertram Schmitt if this meant he was pleading not guilty, he said yes.

Dominic Ongwen was abducted and pressed into service as a teenager in 1988 in the group’s guerilla war against the Ugandan government.

Judges rejected a last-minute request by defence lawyers to postpone the trial opening on the grounds that Ongwen needed psychological evaluation to establish his mental fitness.

The ICC brought charges against Ongwen, Kony and four others who are believed dead, in 2005.

Ongwen gave himself up to U.S. troops last January, fearing for his life after falling out with Kony, who is still at large.

Reuters

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