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Ex-Ugandan rebel commander sentenced to 25-year imprisonment

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced a former Ugandan child soldier to twenty-five years in prison for crimes including rape, sexual enslavement and murder.

Dominic Ongwen, forty-two, was a high-profile commander in the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), whose initial goal was for Uganda to be governed by the biblical Ten Commandments.

He was taken into ICC custody in 2015, and was convicted in February this year of sixty-one out of seventy alleged crimes.

Reading out the sentence against Mr. Ongwen on Thursday, Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said the panel of judges had considered sentencing the former child-soldier to life imprisonment, the court’s harshest punishment, but had decided against it due to the defendant’s own personal suffering.

Mr. Ongwen, who wore a grey suit and red tie, sat impassively as the decision was read aloud. He is appealing his conviction.

Led by fugitive warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in northern Uganda and neighbouring countries. It has now largely been wiped out.

Mr. Ongwen was kidnapped as a nine-year-old boy and forced into a life of violence after the LRA killed his parents. At the same time, the judges found, he knowingly committed a vast range of heinous crimes as an adult, many of them against defenceless children and women who were forced into slavery or to take up arms.

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