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ICC prosecutor to press new charges against Domoinic Ongwen

LIRA, Uganda (Xinhua) -- The International Criminal Court (ICC) chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda on Sunday announced that she is going to expand war crimes charges against Dominic Ongwen, Ugandan rebel commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) currently before the Court.

Addressing the victims of the 2004 Barlonyo massacre here in the northern Ugandan district of Lira, Bensouda said that after her office issued arrest warrants against Ongwen, LRA leader Joseph Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Raska Lukwiya, the commanders continued to commit atrocities in Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

"This case has been in hibernation for 11 years because we didn’t have any of the indicted commanders in our custody.

"Now that we have Ongwen, a lot of work needs to be done. I have asked the Judges to postponed the confirmation charges and trial of Ongwen for four months," said Bensouda.

"This is to enable us to revive, get new evidence, do fresh investigations and re-contact our witness.

"We are expanding the investigations.

"We need to expand the charges.

"We have received information after the warrants were issued, the LRA continued to commit atrocities in Uganda and the neighboring countries," she said.

She added, "We will need your continued support and cooperation.

"We need anybody (victims) who can help give us new information and evidence to build a strong case against Ongwen."

The Hague based court issued it’s first arrest warrants against the five LRA commanders on war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bensouda who is currently in the East African country for a five-day official visit laid a wreath on the Barlonyo monument, where over 300 people were buried in mass graves.

The LRA rebels on February 21, 2004 attacked Barlonyo Internaly Displaced Persons camp and massacred over 300 people.

"This was emotional to me. It touched me as a mother and a woman.

"Ongwen appearance at the Court is the start of the process for the victims to get justice.

"The victims will get justice they deserve," said Bensouda.

She added that they are going to discuss at the Court the possibility of having some prosecution of Ongwen in Uganda.

Bensouda also told the victims that Ongwen has chosen Ugandan lawyer, Odongo Otto as his defense lawyer during his prosecution at The Hague based court.

"The Court had given him Hellen Cisse.

But the defendant has a right to chose his own lawyer.

Ongwen has chosen his Ugandan lawyer Otto to represent him," said Bensouda.



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