TOP
Sunday,October 25,2020 12:01 PM

Kony must face trial â€" ICC

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th July 2007 03:00 AM

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled out lifting the arrest warrants against the top commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), insisting that they must face trial.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled out lifting the arrest warrants against the top commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), insisting that they must face trial.

By Felix Osike
in The Hague

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled out lifting the arrest warrants against the top commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), insisting that they must face trial.

The ICC prosecutor, Louis Moreno Ocampo, said the evidence they had collected against LRA leader Joseph Kony and his commanders was overwhelming.

“The problem is that the arrest warrants were issued on the basis of the evidence we presented. To dismiss the warrants, there must be someone else coming with some evidence or legal challenges. I cannot just withdraw because I do not have any legal authority to do that,” Ocampo told The New Vision in The Hague on Wednesday.

Only the judges who issued the arrest warrants could withdraw them, he added. “It is important to explain that we have strong evidence that Kony, Otti and the other leaders committed these crimes. The evidence shows that they abduct children, transform them into killers, transform girls into sexual slaves and this is a normal way for them to work. These are crimes against humanity.”

He assured that Kony would be entitled to legal representation. “Of course he will have a fair trial. He will have his own defence lawyer, the right to present his own evidence. This system respects the law, respects the accused and the victims. He will also appear before impartial judges.”

The LRA leaders have made the withdrawal of the arrest warrants a condition for signing a comprehensive peace agreement with the government.

But the ICC prosecutor explained that if the government of Uganda or the LRA came with a different solution and presented it to the judges, they would decide on the way forward. “To withdraw the warrants there has to be a legal challenge by Uganda or the LRA,” he stressed.

He said many witnesses had been interviewed. “I will not tell you how many but they are enough. They gave statements and we have all the evidence to prove the case.”

Crimes committed by the LRA in Northern Uganda had reduced drastically since the arrest warrants were issued in 2005, he emphasised.

Asked whether the UPDF would also be held accountable, Ocampo said the crimes committed by the LRA were of higher gravity than alleged crimes committed by any other group. “We are in the process of reviewing information on several other groups in northern Uganda. There is no doubt that the worst crimes were committed by the LRA.”

Ocampo admitted there were fears that the rebels could take advantage of the peace talks to re-group in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “We have some information that they can use this time to re-group. That is a big risk .We hope this does not happen.”

On Mato Oput, the traditional Acholi justice system, the prosecutor said: “If someone believes that the traditional system is enough to ensure justice and accountability, they can challenge the admissibility of the case. It is the defendant and the state party who have the responsibility for this and the judges will make the final decision. ”

The responsibility to arrest Kony, he said, remained with the DRC, Uganda and Sudan. He believes an agreement, signed with the Khartoum Government in October 2005 to execute the LRA arrest warrants, forced the rebels out of their safe haven in Sudan and drove them into the DRC.

He stressed that, as a prosecutor, he was not allowed to be part of the peace talks. “I cannot be a political actor in the talks. I am only a judicial actor at the ICC. I have to do my judicial work.”

He said his role was to ensure accountability for those who bear the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“I am doing justice for you,” was his final message to the people of northern Uganda.

Kony must face trial – ICC

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author