Mixed feelings about Ongwen trial at The Hague

Rose Ajuro, a Ugandan widow whose husband was killed by LRA rebels says it was a moment of joy to see justice implemented against the LRA commanders. PHOTO BY JOSEPH EIGU ONYANGO
Rose Ajuro, a Ugandan widow whose husband was killed by LRA rebels says it was a moment of joy to see justice implemented against the LRA commanders. PHOTO BY JOSEPH EIGU ONYANGO

By Joseph E Onyango in Amuria District, northeast Uganda

As the pre- trial hearing of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen continues in The Hague – Netherlands, a former LRA abductee has begged the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Ugandan government to forgive Ongwen the atrocities he is alleged to have committed. But other LRA victims beg to differ.

19-year old George William Ecodu told The London Evening Post: “I want Mr Ongwen to be forgiven as some of us, the rebel abductees have been forgiven because the Bible says we should forgive.” Ecodu who comes from Amuria district in Northeast Uganda, argued that if Ongwen is forgiven, the remaining rebel commanders still in the jungles shall also come out of the bush. Ongwen currently faces 70 initial charges focused on alleged crimes committed in 2004 that include murder, torture, enslavement, and pillage as part of attacks on Pajule, Abok, Odek and Lukodi camps, four Internally Displaced People (IDP)’s camps in Uganda. In September 2015, the prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda added the charges of persecution, sexual and gender-based crimes, recruitment and use of juvenile soldiers.

Ecodu who was abducted at the age of seven by the LRA rebels in 2003 from his village of Morungatuny in Amuria district and  kept under the LRA captivity for 10 years in the jungles of the Central African Republic (CAR), only escaped after he was recovered in 2013 with nine other children by Invisible Children, a Non Government Organisation that was operating in the CAR. They were reunited with their family members in Amuria district later after passing through a rehabilitation centre in Gulu. On the day of Ongwen’s pre-trial, Ecodu who was attending Mt Olive Primary School in Soroti district during his private holiday studies and is candidate waiting to sit for his final Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) this year 2016, said that he wants to become a doctor and that is why he is concentrating on his studies even during holidays. “I want to catch up with other students since I wasted so much time in the bush as an LRA captive,” said Ecodu.

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