International Criminal Court to hold first ever in absentia hearing over Ugandan rebel leader Kony


THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — International Criminal Court prosecutors will present evidence to back up charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity against notorious fugitive Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony at the global court’s first ever in absentia hearing later this year.

The court announced Monday it will hold a so-called confirmation of charges hearing starting Oct. 15 against Kony, the alleged leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a brutal rebel group, nearly two decades after first seeking his arrest.

Kony faces 12 counts of crimes against humanity including murder, sexual enslavement and rape, and 21 counts of war crimes including cruel treatment of civilians, pillaging and enlisting child soldiers allegedly committed in 2003 and 2004 in northern Uganda.

The hearing is not a trial, but allows prosecutors to outline their case in court. Kony – if he is not arrested before the hearing — will be represented in his absence by a defense lawyer. If he is captured after the hearing, Kony will face trial at the court based in The Hague.

The LRA began its attacks in Uganda in the 1980s, when Kony sought to overthrow the government. After being pushed out of Uganda, the militia terrorized villages in Congo, Central Africa Republic and South Sudan. It was notorious for using child soldiers, mutilating civilians and enslaving women.

Kony was thrust into the global spotlight in 2012 when a video about his crimes went viral. Despite the attention and international efforts to capture him, he remains at large.

Last week, the ICC awarded reparations of more than 52 million euros ($56 million) to thousands of victims of Dominic Ongwen, a convicted commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army.

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