As the pre- trial hearing of the LRA rebel commander, Mr. Dominic Ongwen continues at The Hague- Netherlands, 19 year old George William Ecodu, a former LRA abductee has pleaded and asked government of Uganda and THE International Criminal Court (ICC) to forgive Mr. Dominic Ongwen for the atrocities he committed.
“I want Mr. Ongwen to be forgiven as some of us the rebel abductees have been forgiven because the Bible says we should forgive,” said Ecodu.
He argued that if Mr. Ongwen is forgiven, the remaining rebels’ commanders still in the jungles shall be encouraged to come out.
Ecodu who was reportedly abducted by the LRA rebels in 2003 from his village of Morungatuny in Amuria district at the age of seven years and was kept under the LRA captivity for 10 years in jungle of the Central African Republic (CAR) only escaped after he was recovered in 2013 with nine other children by the Invisible children, an NGO that was operating in the CAR.
The ICC has so far slapped 70 charges on Mr Dominic Ongwen. Initial charges focused on alleged crimes committed in 2004, and include murder, torture, enslavement, and pillage as part of attacks on four internally displaced people (IDP)'s camps in Uganda, Pajule, Abok, Odek and Lukodi camps.
In September 2015, the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda added the charges of persecution, sexual and gender-based crimes, recruitment and use of juvenile soldiers.
However, commenting on Ongwen’s pre-trail, Mr. Tom Okello, the current LC 3 chairman Obalanga Sub County argued that Mr. Ongwen, being one of the notorious commanders should be held responsible for the atrocities they committed.
“Ongwen being the rebel commander must have participated in the planning meetings to attack and abduct people in Teso and other IDPs camps, therefore he must be held responsible for all the atrocities committed including murder and loss of property” Said Mr Okello.
Okello said he witnessed and experienced the entry of LRA rebels into Teso sub region on the 15th June 2003 through Obalanga Sub County in Amuria district where they abducted 734 people including children.
He said other people returned and others have not been accounted for up to today while another 365 people were killed in different parts of Obalanga Sub County and their bodies were later recovered and buried in a mass grave in Obalanga sub county headquarters.
In his opinion, Okello raised concern and expressed disappointment why LRA victims and witnesses from Teso sub region that could testify against Ongwen during the ongoing trial were not included at The Hague yet Teso sub region also suffered the LRA incursion like Northern region.
According to ICC, Ongwen is accused of ordering attack on Lukodi IDP camp in Gulu on the May 19, 2004, Pajule and other camps where many people were allegedly killed.