LRA commander Dominic Ongwen pleads not guilty to war crimes at ICC


 Mr Ongwen is accused of leading attacks on camps for internally displaced people.ongwen

The first former child soldier to appear at the International Criminal Court has pleaded not guilty and told judges he was a victim too.

Lords Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen said the LRA was responsible and he had also suffered from the atrocities.

Ongwen, now in his early 40s, was a boy when he was abducted by the notoriously ruthless rebel cult.

He faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Uganda.

Mr Ongwen is accused of leading attacks on four camps for internally displaced people in northern Uganda, murdering and torturing civilians, and forcing women into marriage and children to take part in the fighting.

But he told the court the charges should be brought against the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony, not him.

“It is the LRA who abducted people in northern Uganda, killed people in northern Uganda and committed atrocities in northern Uganda. I’m one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities. It is not me who is the LRA,” he said.

Image caption Mr Ongwen rose to become a top commander during his time with the LRA ongwen2

When asked if he wanted to plead guilty, he said the trial against him “amounts to my going back into the bush for a second time” and asked the judges if they disputed that his life had been ruined.

He then pleaded not guilty to all 70 charges.

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