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ICC to hold hearings in Joseph Kony case in October

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said it will hold hearings in October to confirm charges against Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, who has been on the run for almost two decades.

The Hague-based ICC issued an arrest warrant in 2005 against Kony and several senior commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group, which conducted a reign of terror in northern Uganda in the early 2000s.

Kony, 62, is suspected of 36 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity as his rebels gained notoriety for abducting young boys and girls and turning them into child soldiers or sex slaves.

Members of the LRA and Joseph Kony making a rare public appearance in South Sudan in 2006

The ICC will “hold a confirmation of charges hearing in the case against Joseph Kony in the suspect’s absence, should he not appear, and set the date for this hearing to commence on 15 October 2024.”

It will be the first time the tribunal – which opened its doors in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes – will hold a hearing featuring an absent suspect to see if he should be sent to trial.

Suspects however cannot be tried in absentia at the ICC, but it is possible to hold confirmation hearings while they are still fugitives to speed up the process.

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

He has been on the run since and US president Barack Obama in 2011 deployed a small number of US troops to help regional armies try to capture him.

Although Kony’s current whereabouts are unknown, some news reports placed him in the war-ravaged Darfur region of western Sudan.

A Ugandan man punching an image of a LRA commander who was found guilty of war crimes

Starting with a bloody rebellion in northern Uganda against President Yoweri Museveni, the LRA’s campaign of violence has claimed more than 100,000 lives and seen 60,000 children abducted.

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

The allegations against Kony in the arrest warrant include murder, cruel treatment, enslavement, rape, and attacks against civilian population, the ICC said.

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

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