Victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)atrocities in Lango sub-region have opposed the trial of the rebel group’s top commander, Maj Gen Dominic Ongwen, in the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Maj Gen Ongwen, the LRA’s second-in-command, who surrendered but later the CAR-based Seleka rebel leadership refuted the claim and insisted he had been captured after a 25–minute gun battle with their fighters, was handed over to the ICC at the weekend. He is expected to be arraigned in the Hague based court this week.
Many victims said Maj Gen Ongwen should only seek forgiveness for the atrocities the LRA committed against civilians in northern region.
They said they will gain nothing even if Maj Gen Ongwen is convicted in the ICC and sentenced to life in jail. “Prosecuting him will not bring back my two lost children. All that Ongwen has to do is to come back to us and say ‘I am sorry, so I ask my sisters, my brothers, my parents to forgive me and I will forgive him,” Bito Okwir of Akuki village, Aleka Sub-county in Oyam District, said.
Another LRA victim, Ms Katorina Okello, said all they need is a chance for Maj Gen Ongwen to repent and apologise to the victims.
However, there were some victims who called for the punishment of Maj Gen Ongwen and other LRA leaders for the crimes they committed against the people. They want all LRA leaders to go through trial to allow the victims know why the rebels committed the crimes against them.
Ms Florence Aciro from Abako Sub-county in Alebtong District, said prosecution is the best way to deal with the perpetrators of the war crimes by the LRA. Maj Gen Ongwen has been on the ICC indictment list for about 10 years on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.