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ICC convicts Ugandan rebel commander Ongwen of war crimes

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Ex-Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen was on Thursday found guilty of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its verdict in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier turned rebel commander accused of 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery and use of child soldiers between 2002 and 2004: Ongwen faced a string of horrific charges.

The former rebel commander who went on trial in December 2016, pleaded not guilty to the charges at the start of proceedings and continues to deny all accusations.

He was said to have committed the crimes while he was a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda.

Presiding judge Bertram Schmitt while reading the verdict said: “His guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt”.

Rights groups say the LRA abducted tens of thousands of children for use as fighters and sexual slaves, and killed and maimed thousands of civilians in remote regions of northern Uganda, north-eastern Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic during its three-decade insurgency, which ended in 2005.

Although sentencing will take place at a later date, Ongwen faces life imprisonment, .

Thursday marked the first time the Hague-based court has issued a judgement in a case involving the LRA. The case in particular had presented a dilemma to the court as Ongwen appeared to be both the victim and the alleged perpetrator.

Ongwen was abducted by the LRA and forced to be a child soldier, before rising up the ranks to become the deputy to LRA commander Joseph Kony who remains at large.