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Ugandan Villagers Welcome the Sentencing of their Former Torturer

A former militia leader and child soldier from Uganda has been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the international criminal court in a landmark judgment. Dominic Ongwen was convicted on Thursday of 61 individual charges of murder, rape, sexual slavery, abduction and torture committed as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a violent cult which waged a bloody campaign of violence in Uganda and neighbouring countries from the mid-1980s until a few years ago. The court rejected defence arguments that because Ongwen, 41, was abducted by the LRA at the age of 10 he had committed any crimes under duress. In his first appearance in December 2016, Ongwen said he would plead not guilty, telling the court he was “one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities” and should not be on trial. Lawyers for Ongwen also argued that he had been profoundly traumatised during his time with the group and so was not responsible for his actions. The presiding judge, Bertram Schmitt, said a huge number of witnesses had provided overwhelming evidence that painted a picture of a person in full possession of his abilities.