January 17, 2015 / 9:24 AM / 3 years ago

Uganda says rebel LRA commander in custody of Central African Republic

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan forces have handed a commander from the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) into the custody of the Central African Republic’s government, the Ugandan army said on Saturday, moving his transfer to the International Criminal Court a step closer.

Dominic Ongwen, a senior Lord's Resistance Army commander who surrendered to U.S. troops in the Central African Republic, is seen in this handout photograph taken in the Central African Republic January 14, 2015. REUTERS/Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF)/Handout via Reuters (CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST POLITICS MILITARY)

The U.S. army said last week Dominic Ongwen had surrendered, marking a major success in the campaign to crush the LRA, a group that first rose up against Uganda in the late 1980s and which gained a reputation for massacres and mutilating victims.

Ongwen, 34, was in recent days held by the Ugandan contingent of the U.S.-backed AU Regional Task Force, set up to fight the LRA. Uganda had said he would be sent to the court in The Hague by the Central African Republic government.

Uganda’s military spokesman, Paddy Ankunda, said in a statement that Ongwen was now in the custody of the Central African Republic. “He was flown to Bangui,” he said, before his transfer to The Hague, without saying when that would be.

ICC had issued a warrant to arrest Ongwen for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Pravin Char

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