Kampala- A day after Dominic Ongwen, a top LRA commander, was transferred to The Hague to face charges for a variety of war crimes, the International Criminal Court named three high profile judges to handle his trial.
The ICC presidency yesterday named a Bulgarian judge with a decade-long experience in international criminal law, a Belgian judge with a background in international and comparative criminal law, and an experienced Italian prosecutor to form a three-person coram.
The ICC prosecutor indicated Ongwen will “in the next few days” appear before the Pre-Trial Chamber II composed of Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova (Bulgaria), Presiding Judge, Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert (Belgium), and Judge Cuno Tarfusser (Italy).
Daily Monitor understands that one of the Judges (Trendafilova) was the Presiding Judge in the previous proceedings in the situations of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the neighbouring Kenya; the Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and the Prosecutor v. William Ruto et al, respectively.
The government this week announced that international lawyers had approached it showing interest to represent Ongwen, who recently surrendered to the American troops in Central African Republic.
ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda yesterday said in a statement, Ongwen’s transfer to The Hague brings the court one step closer to ending the LRA’s reign of terror in the African Great Lakes region.
She said the LRA has reportedly killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of people, terrorised 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.
“My investigation demonstrates that Dominic Ongwen served as a high ranking commander within the LRA and that he is amongst those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC,” Ms Fatou Bensouda stated.
She added: “I urge all others [rebels] that still remain within LRA ranks to abandon violence; stop committing crimes, and follow the bold steps of others before you,”
On behalf of the Court, the Registrar of the ICC, Mr Herman von Hebel ,yesterday applauded Ongwen’s transfer to The Hague and sought to assure the victims of the 21-year-insurgency in northern Uganda that in order to dispense justice all efforts will made to ensure that they get a lawyer who will tell their story.
He saluted “the persistent efforts” of the government of Uganda, the government of the Central African Republic, the Uganda People’s Defense Force, the African Union Regional Task Force who all put pressure on the rebels until Ongwen’s surrender.