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ICC refuses to drop arrest warrant against LRA’s Vincent Otti

LRA commander Vincent Otti. ICC declined to drop an arrest warrant against him until the body of his deputy is produced. (PHOTO/FILE)

KAMPALA – The International Criminal Court (ICC), has said unless the body of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel, Vincent Otti is produced, the arrest warrant issued against him will not be dropped.

There are several reports that Otti was executed on October 2, 2007, on the orders of Joseph Kony, the LRA Chief, after the two men disagreed over the failed 2006 Juba Peace Talks.

Otti is alleged to have faced firing squad after being tied on the stump of a tree outside Kony’s base inside Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

On July 8, 2005, ICC issued arrest warrants against five of the top LRA commanders including the LRA’s Chief Joseph Kony for their alleged roles in the violent campaigns against the civilian population majorly in northern Uganda.

Otti faces 33 counts of crimes against humanity in violation of the Rome Statute.

Answering questions from journalists on Monday in Kampala, Phakiso Mochokochoko, the ICC Director Jurisdiction, Complementary and Cooperation Division said unless they have Otti’s body, the arrest warrant against Otti is still active.

Mochokochoko explained that as ICC, they need Otti’s body so that DNA tests can be conducted to prove that he is dead but not as being rumoured.

Mochokochoko said unless there are forensic evidence to prove that the indicted LRA Commander is dead, the arrest warrant issued against him is still active.

The ICC insists that there will be no time frame when the arrest warrant against Otti will be dropped.

According to ICC, unless forensic investigations are done like in the case of Raska Lukwiya and Okot Odhiambo, the arrest warrant on LRA’s second in command is still active and valid.

The arrest warrant for Lukwiya was dropped when it was confirmed that he had died in July 2006 during battle with the government forces.

Out the five LRA commanders wanted on war crimes and crimes against humanity, it is only Dominic Ongwen who has been taken into custody at the ICC after he defected in 2015.

Ongwen is facing seventy charges for his role in abduction, enslavement and sexual slavery among others.

On successful conviction, he is liable for face between 30 years and life jail term.

The Netherlands Ambassador to Uganda, Hen Jan Baker, said the creation of the ICC should send signals to those committing heinous crimes that impunity has no place in the world.

Baker warned that suspects in international crimes can run but they at last they will get hold of.

Almost all the rebels in the Lord’s Resistance Army were abducted as children and were forced to carry out atrocities on their own communities.

LRA is blamed for widespread atrocities against civilian population in northern Uganda, South Sudan, DRC and the Central African Republic (CAR).

The two-decade war in the north displaced more than 1.5 million people in Internally Displaced Camps,  tens of thousands lost lives, women and children recruited as fighters.

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