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ICC prosecutor seeks to revive case against fugitive Joseph Kony

The ICC chief prosecutor is seeking to revive the case against the Ugandan rebel commander in his absence, as he has evaded arrest for nearly 20 years.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has sought to revive the case against fugitive Ugandan rebel commander Joseph Kony, who remains at large since an arrest warrant was issued in 2005 on war crimes charges.

Prosecutor Karim Khan said he had asked the judges for permission to hold a hearing to confirm the charges against Kony, the head of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), in his absence.

“This is the first time my office has made such a request since the establishment of the ICC,” Khan said.

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Kony launched a bloody rebellion more than three decades ago seeking to impose his own version of the Ten Commandments on northern Uganda, unleashing a campaign of “terror” that spread to several neighboring countries.

The Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kony in 2005 on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and US President Barack Obama sent a small number of US troops in 2011 to help the military. regional to try to capture it.

“However, this arrest warrant remains unexecuted to this day. Kony has tried to evade court proceedings in this court for more than 17 years despite continued efforts,” Khan said in a statement.

“I have determined that it is both necessary and appropriate to seek to advance the proceedings against him to the fullest extent consistent with the Rome Statute,” the ICC’s governing charter said.

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Suspects cannot be tried in absentia at the ICC, but confirmation hearings can be held while they are still fugitives, Khan explained.

‘Significant milestone’

Confirming the charges against Kony would make his trial easier and faster if he is caught, the prosecutor added.

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Any hearing involving Kony would be a “significant milestone for the victims of Mr. Kony’s crimes who have patiently waited for justice for nearly two decades,” Khan said.

Starting with a bloody rebellion in northern Uganda against President Yoweri Museveni, the LRA’s campaign of violence has resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 people and the abduction of 60,000 children.

The violence eventually spread to Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic.

The charges against Kony in the arrest warrant include murder, cruel treatment, slavery, rape and attacks on civilians, the ICC said.

In 2021, the ICC convicted an LRA child soldier-turned-commander, Dominic Ongwen, of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 25 years in prison.

He has appealed against the verdict and sentence, arguing that he was scarred by his own history and still believed he was “possessed” by Kony’s spirit.

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The ICC was created in 2002 to bring to justice the perpetrators of the world’s worst crimes, but has been criticized for picking many of its cases from African nations.

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