Judges of the International Criminal Court have sentenced former Ugandan child soldier to a 25-year prison term.
Dominican Ongwen, who later became a commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army, was taken into ICC custody in 2015.
In February this year, he was convicted of 61 crimes, including sexual enslavement, murder, torture, child abductions, and rape.
Bertram Schmitt, the presiding judge, said his colleagues at the panel had considered giving Ongwen life imprisonment. Life imprisonment is the court’s harshest punishment.
Following the defendant’s suffering, the court altered its decision.
Led by warlord Joseph Kony, currently a fugitive, the LRA harassed Ugandans for almost 20 years. During this period, the movement fought Yoweri Museveni’s government from their bases in neighbouring countries and northern Uganda.
Currently, the movement has been wiped out. The group abducted Ongwen as a 9-year-old, forcing him into a life of violence.
However, judges found him guilty of knowingly committing various heinous crimes in his adulthood.
Most of the crimes committed affected women and defenceless children who were forced into slavery.
“Ongwen is a perpetrator who knowingly caused a lot of suffering to his victims. However, as a perpetrator, he also endured a lot of suffering at the hands of his abductors, where he later became a leader and prominent member,” said Judge Schmitt.
Although prosecutors demanded he gets 20 years in prison, his defence argued Ongwen shouldn’t get more than 10 years in prison.
In their argument, the former warlord’s defence team said he was gravely traumatized as a child soldier. The accused’s lawyers can appeal his sentence.