The International Criminal Court has sentenced a Ugandan former child soldier who turned into a brutal rebel commander to 25 years in jail.
Judges said that Dominic Ongwen’s own abduction as a schoolboy and history as a child soldier prevented him from being sentenced to life.
He was convicted in February of a total of 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, forced marriage and using child soldiers as a commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
His lawyers have said they will appeal against the conviction.
The chamber is confronted in the present case with a unique situationBertram Schmitt, presiding judge
Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said that judges had to weigh Ongwen’s brutality with his own tortured past when deciding on a sentence.
“The chamber is confronted in the present case with a unique situation. It is confronted with a perpetrator who wilfully brought tremendous suffering upon his victims,” Judge Schmitt said.
“However, it is also confronted with a perpetrator who himself had previously endured extreme suffering himself at the hands of the group of which he later became a prominent member and leader.”
Ongwen, wearing a face mask and headphones, showed no emotion as he heard that the three-judge panel had given him a sentence five years longer than the 20 years prosecutors requested.
Ongwen’s defence lawyers have always cast him as a victim of the LRA’s brutality who was traumatised after being abducted as a nine-year-old boy and turned into a child soldier in the group’s violent insurgency.
But judges in February ruled that he committed the crimes “as a fully responsible adult, as a commander of the LRA in his mid to late 20s”.