photo copyright( C) British Broadcasting Company

photo engraving Dominic Ongwen is the very first LRA leader to appear before the International Crook Court.

Called the “White Ant”, founded guilty fight wrongdoer Dominic Ongwen is estimated to have actually been in between 9 and also 14 years old when he was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as he was walking to university in north Uganda – taking place over the following 27 years ahead to be a fierce rebel leader.

Warning: Some people might find information in this story troubling

” It is a story of a youngster, like lots of in the LRA, required to mature in the image of their oppressors,” project team LRA Crisis Tracker cases.

Soon after his kidnapping in 1987 or 1988, he attempted to run away with 3 others along with when they failed, he was needed to skin to life among the various other abductees as a caution, a psychoanalyst at his battle criminal offenses examination at the International Crook Court (ICC) in The Hague mentioned.

” They skinned this person, removed his gut, and also put it up on trees,” Dickens Akena educated the court. “As well as he [Ongwen] stated he would not consume meat for a couple of months.”

Mr Ongwen – whose last name indicates “born at the time of the white ant” – took place to climb promptly in rebel positions, happening a brigadier by his late 20 s after winning the positive self-image of LRA leader Joseph Kony, LRA Situation Tracker states.

Yet he had a fractious partnership with the LRA warlord, looking after to leave his clutches in 2015 when he surrendered – ten years after he, Mr Kony as well as likewise 3 various other elderly leaders had really been thumbed by the ICC.

He has really currently been condemned of 61 of the 70 issues of battle criminal offenses along with criminal tasks versus humanity dedicated in between July 2002 along with December 2005.

They connect with strikes on 4 camps, guarded by the defense pressures, established for those needed to leave their homes as an outcome of rebel raids. He was furthermore established guilty of fees connecting to sex-related slavery and also conscripting along with making use of children under the age of 15 in hostilities.

Asserting to eliminate for a scriptural state, the LRA has actually removed greater than 100,000 individuals as well as likewise abducted more than 60,000 youngsters throughout the three-decade lengthy issue which infected numerous of Uganda’s next-door neighbors.

Mr Ongwen, that had actually pled innocent, asserted he requires to have actually been taken into consideration as a patient also, informing the court: “I are just one of individuals versus whom the LRA committed atrocities.”

‘ He suched as dancing’

Called a quiet as well as likewise perky child, his uncle, Johnson Odong, a court witness, claimed Mr Ongwen’s mother and fathers were both dead within a month of his kidnapping – his mother allegedly bludgeoned by the rebels along with his dad incorrect for a rebel by the safety and security pressures.

Primary institution teacher P’Atwoga Okello claimed in a protection witness declaration that the kid valued social dancing training courses “as well as other locations of the arts”.

His instructor in the LRA was Vincent Otti, that occurred to wind up being Mr Kony’s substitute, with whom he lived after his kidnapping, according to scholastic Erin K Baines.

A terrific instructor can control difficult dedication after indoctrinating captives with callous whippings along with routines – complied with by basic training and also robbery raids, she states.

photo copyright Getty Photos

picture subtitle LRA leader Vincent Otti was the young servant’s very first coach

Ongwen was supposedly distressed to please, yet initially handled the needs of life on the unguis – the far took a trip on foot, as well as likewise one ICC witness mentioned he needed to be carried throughout substantial rivers.

In the mid-1990 s he transferred to what is presently South Sudan where the LRA executed treatments. By 2001 he was a location leader as well as likewise he wound up being identified for recovering pressures with kidnapping raids in Uganda, Ms Baines states.

“[He] gained the online reputation of being able to emerge from the bloodiest of fights with few casualties among his fighters,” the Enough Job, another project group, states.

Dominic Ongwen at a look:

  • Abducted by LRA on his methods to establishment
  • Rose to wind up being a leading leader
  • Accused of fight criminal offenses as well as likewise criminal tasks versus humanity, consisting of slavery
  • ICC supplied apprehension warrant in 2005
  • Rumoured to have actually been eliminated in the specific very same year
  • United States provided $5m (₤ 3.3 m) benefit for information leading to his uneasiness in 2013
  • Moved to the ICC in 2015 after his desertion. Found guilty of battle criminal offenses in 2021.

One previous abductee called him “a tough fighter that was constantly on the relocation” – though with a limp from a poor leg injury.

Throughout the test, the prosecution supplied LRA radio interactions blocked by Ugandan defense companies, showing exactly how Mr Kony – that convinced his military of abductees that his “spirits” may assess their minds – kept restricted command and also control over his squadrons.

picture copyright AFP

picture subtitle The LRA is popular for removing the lips, noses along with ears of private citizens

” Effective leaders were commended by Kony and also various other elderly police officers. I remember Dominic Ongwen, referred to as Odomi, frequently being singled out for praise,” mentioned a radio checking police officer, whose recognition was hidden.

However Ongwen likewise had an uncertain collaboration with Mr Kony, opposing the application of Otti in 2007 after both befalled amidst stalled peace negotiation.

” LRA defectors report that Ongwen was the only leader that begged with Kony to spare Otti’s life, a step that deteriorated his influence within the LRA,” declares LRA Dilemma Tracker.

” Nonetheless, Kony saved Ongwen from the subsequent purge of Otti loyalists as a result of Ongwen’s value to the LRA, particularly his ability to lead soldiers on bold goals.”

picture copyright AFP

photo subtitle Several communities have really been ruined in the disagreement

The tranquility initiative took place in a woodland cleaning on the limit of the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as likewise what is presently South Sudan – with amazing video clip of the rebels communicating with arbitrators.

With his hallmark dreadlocks along with boylike looks, Ongwen is seen watching on carefully at the procedure, which observers claim at some point failed because of the being rejected to take out the ICC’s 2005 fees.


For some – including his “bush wife”, Florence Ayot – this was an injustice.

” Dominic made use of to inform us he was abducted when he was very young. Whatever he did was in the name of Kony, so he’s innocent,” she educated the BBC in 2008.

Approved amnesty after avoiding the LRA in 2005, she had really been abducted as a nine-year-old and also extremely initial wound up being the “spouse” of LRA leader Obwong Kijura, that had actually raped her at the age of 13.

After his casualty, she informed the ICC she willingly became Ongwen’s “wife” as the LRA leader would absolutely not allow ladies to endure on their actual own.

She claimed he treated her kid like his very own children by his various other 3 “spouses” at the time as well as likewise was never ever intense to her.

” I liked him due to the means he would certainly live with individuals. He was not quarrelsome, and I felt it benefited me to visit him. There was absolutely nothing I disliked about him because I had actually not seen anything incorrect he had done prior to … We lived gladly together.”

‘ I was screaming’

This rattled with testimony of 7 others at the test, consisting of witness P-227, an additional of Mr Ongwen’s “other halves”. Abducted in April in 2005, she was apparently forced to have sex with Ongwen a month later: “I started sobbing, I was howling and also my voice was really loud.

” He asked why I was weeping; he informed me if I continued weeping – he exposed me his tool … I looked like my entire body was being abused.” She claims she was consistently raped up until her getaway in 2010.

media caption Dominic Ongwen: Ugandans collect to view the ICC hearing in 2016

And also getaway was a dangerous endeavour – the LRA would certainly endanger to damage your village if you did so. According to Ms Ayot’s testament, she and Ongwen did story to go in 2003, yet their plan was uncovered as well as her “spouse” was positioned “under uneasiness” by Otti for several weeks.

Some psychoanalysts at the test felt Ongwen was experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder as well as a dissociative identity disorder at the time of the attacks on the camps, when the prosecution claimed was he a squadron commander in the Sinia Brigade – becoming its total leader in March 2004.

ICC prosecutors price quote witness statement as claiming that on a minimum of one event he got his males “to eliminate, prepare along with eat civilians”.

More than 4,000 victims have actually participated in the test – stood for by two legal groups – the majority of them former camp residents – and the test has actually outlined the lives lost, damage, kidnappings and also mental damage to these areas in northern Uganda.

Rows over household telephone call

In 2013, the US – which had joined the search for LRA commanders – provided a $5m (₤ 3.3 m) incentive for info causing Ongwen’s capture.

With records of his murder in 2005 proving to be incorrect, he stayed on the run for a lot more years as the rebels moved western right into DR Congo as well as its other neighbours.

image copyright AFP

photo subtitle Dominic Ongwen is claimed to have had a volatile partnership with LRA leader Joseph Kony (imagined)

An LRA jail-breaker declared that Mr Kony bought that Ongwen be badly defeated for insubordination at the end of 2014.

In negative form he ultimately got away from the LRA camp in Darfur, making it from Sudan to neighbouring Central African Republic (AUTO), where he was apprehended.

At the time he asked for forgiveness from the Ugandan people, yet within 10 days he had been transferred to the ICC.

According to, throughout his pre-trial imprisonment he seemed to appreciate his possibility to go after an education, consisting of piano-lessons.

Though he endangered suicide and also took place hunger strike in 2016 in rows over call to his household – he had initially been barred from speaking to his kids.

picture copyright ICC

photo subtitle Dominic Ongwen has typically complied with the ICC procedures silently

Some argue that the test has actually been a proxy prosecution of Mr Kony, whose rebel movement is much weaker nowadays but is still energetic outside Uganda.

Nonetheless 2 variations of Ongwen emerged during his trial: among a brutal awesome, the various other of a traumatised youngster soldier who grew up to be a conflicted man.

His protection team argue he should currently be sent out residence for regional Acholi leaders to look after justice with their standard reconciliation rituals – as has actually been done with thousands of various other boxers before him.