Prosecutor calls for new effort to arrest warlord Kony

Mike Corder Associated Press

The Hague, Netherlands — The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor called Wednesday for renewed efforts to arrest notorious militia leader Joseph Kony, after one of his top commanders was taken into custody to face charges of leading a reign of terror in central Africa.

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said in a statement that the victims of atrocities committed by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army “have waited far too long and deserve to see justice done.”

Dominic Ongwen, one of Kony’s top commanders, was transferred to the court’s detention center early Wednesday, two weeks after being taken into custody in Central African Republic.

His arrest came nearly a decade after he, Kony and other LRA leaders were indicted. The other indicted suspects have since died, leaving Kony the only fugitive among the shadowy Ugandan group’s commanders still on the run.

Bensouda underscored the horror caused over more than 25 years by Kony’s forces.

“The LRA has reportedly killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of people; terrorized civilians, abducted children and forced them to kill and serve as sex slaves. They have hacked off limbs and horribly disfigured men, women and children,” Bensouda said.

Ongwen, himself reported to be a former child soldier, was among leaders who bear greatest responsibility for “unimaginable crimes against humanity and war crimes,” she said.

No date was immediately set for Ongwen’s first appearance before judges at the court, who will ask him to confirm his identity and if he has been made aware of the charges against him. He faces three counts of crimes against humanity and four of war crimes.

Activists welcomed his detention.

“The transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC is a major step for those affected by the LRA’s long history of crimes,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “All eyes will now be on the ICC to deliver fair, meaningful justice that will resonate with the LRA’s victims.”