Top Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen has arrived in The Hague to stand trial on war crimes charges.

Mr Ongwen, a feared commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), was taken into custody at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on arrival.

He was arrested in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this month.

His trial will be the first time that a member of the LRA, led by the notorious warlord Joseph Kony, has faced international justice.

Uganda agreed that he should be tried by the ICC despite being a fierce critic of The Hague-based court.

US and African forces had been searching for Mr Ongwen since 2011.

Dominic Ongwen (centre right) in the Central African Republic accompanied by Ugandan Contingent Commander to the African Union Regional Task Force Col Michael Kabango (right) Charge d'Affaires of the US Embassy in Bangui David Brown (left) and other unidentified military officialsMr Ongwen (in a blue shirt) appeared before journalists at an undisclosed location in the Central African Republic on 17 January before flying from Bangui to The Hague

He is said to be the deputy to LRA commander Joseph Kony, who is still on the run.

The ICC said in a statement that Mr Ongwen will be held in a detention centre in the Netherlands until his trial.

He will undergo a medical visit and a date will soon be set for his first court appearance, the statement added.

The UN Security Council and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon both issued statements welcoming Mr Ongwen’s transfer from the Central African Republic. Mr Ban called it “a step forward in efforts to bring justice to the thousands of victims of LRA violence”.

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Who is Dominic Ongwen?

  • Said to have been abducted by LRA, aged 10, as he walked to school in northern Uganda
  • Rose to become a top commander
  • Accused of crimes against humanity, including enslavement
  • ICC issued arrest warrant in 2005
  • Rumoured to have been killed in the same year
  • US offered $5m (£3.3m) reward for information leading to his arrest in 2013

Dominic Ongwen – full profile

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His transfer from the CAR to The Hague “is a welcome development in the international community’s campaign to counter the LRA’s dehumanising violence, and to bring perpetrators to justice after more than two decades of the LRA’s brutal campaign of torture, rape and murder”, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said.

The US is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, but it facilitated his transfer to the ICC.

It offered a $5m (£3.3m) reward in 2013 for information leading to Mr Ongwen’s arrest.

Aerial view of the town of Obo in the Central African RepublicThe Lord’s Resistance Army fighters are now based in the forests of the Central African Republic

Mr Ongwen is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including enslavement, after surrendering on 6 January in the CAR. He said that after years of hiding in the forests it was time to face the charges against him.

His extradition comes nearly 10 years after he and four other LRA top commanders were charged. Three have since died and only Mr Kony remains at large.

Mr Ongwen is accused of committing atrocities against civilians in Uganda and in parts of Central African Republic, South Sudan and DR Congo.

The LRA rebellion began more than two decades ago in northern Uganda and its estimated 200-500 fighters – many of them child soldiers – have since terrorised large swathes of central Africa.

via BBC News – LRA commander Dominic Ongwen arrives at Hague court.

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