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ICC Allows In Absentia Hearings In Case Against Ugandan Warlord Kony

Tuesday 5-March -2024 {HMC} THE HAGUE — Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday ruled that prosecutors can bring a hearing on charges against fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in his absence on Oct. 15.

Kony, the founder and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is the ICC’s longest standing fugitive. An arrest warrant was issued against him in 2005.

ICC prosecutors are looking to charge Kony with 36 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder, rape, using child soldiers, sexual slavery, forced marriage and forced pregnancy.

Led by the now 62-year-old Kony, the LRA sowed fear among Ugandans for nearly 20 years as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in northern Uganda and neighboring countries. It has now largely been wiped out.

About 100,000 people were killed in the conflict, according to U.N. figures.

According to prosecutors Kony had ultimate power over the entire LRA and led a coordinated campaign to abduct children to integrate them into the LRA.

The abducted children were subjected to a “carefully designed and coordinated regime of physical and psychological violence” including sometimes being forced to beat and even kill other abductees, the document containing the charges said.

Kony, who is still at large, has said he is not guilty of the allegations against him.

In late 2022 ICC prosecutor Karim Kahn requested a hearing in the case to offer a “meaningful milestone” for victims and to present the depth of evidence gathered against Kony.

It is the first time since the court became a legal reality in 2002 that ICC judges have allowed a so-called confirmation of charges hearing without the suspect present and could have implications for other cases with fugitive suspects.

Other high-profile ICC fugitives include Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is wanted on charges of child abduction in Ukraine, and former Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir, wanted for alleged genocide in Darfur.

Russia denies committing war crimes in Ukraine, while Sudanese authorities dismissed the court when the warrant against Bashir was issued in 2009.

SOURCE VOA

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