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War crimes prosecutor invites Ugandan rebels to defend themselves in court

Responding to recent media statements by the leader of the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) denying charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, the world’s prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today invited him, along with four other accused LRA commanders, to appear before The Hague-based body to defend themselves.“The Court will guarantee their safe passage to the Hague, and they will be given every opportunity and facility to present their case before an independent judicial body with the highest guarantees of the due process,” Luis Moreno Ocampo, ICC’s Chief Prosecutor, said, referring to Joseph Kony and his commanders, who are the targets of the first arrest warrants ever issued by the international court.The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is notorious for abducting children, with at least 25,000 known to have been recruited during their 20-year campaign of terror in the region, which has also displaced over 1 million people.The group uses the children as fighters and porters, often subjecting them to extreme violence shortly after abduction, with many girls allocated to officers in a form of institutional rape, according to UN human rights officials.The other LRA commanders being sought by the ICC for such crimes are Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya.

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