January 21, 2015 / 2:23 AM / 3 years ago

Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army commander transferred to ICC in The Hague

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A commander of the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) wanted for war crimes was transferred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Tuesday, a move welcomed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council.

Dominic Ongwen, a one-time child soldier who rose through the ranks of the rebel group, was among five senior commanders of the guerrilla movement indicted by the global court for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005.

In a statement, the 15-member Security Council said Ongwen had arrived in The Hague and called on states to bring the remaining commanders wanted by the International Criminal Court to justice, including the group's leader Joseph Kony. 

"The members of the Security Council demanded an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA and urged the LRA to release all those abducted, and to disarm and demobilize," it said. 

Ongwen, 34, defected from the LRA in late December and handed himself over to the Seleka rebels who control swathes of the north and east of the Central African Republic. Seleka then transferred him to the U.S. forces supporting a regional anti-LRA task force.    

He was transferred to ICC custody on Jan. 17. The ICC said earlier on Tuesday that on his arrival in The Hague, Ongwen would receive a medical visit and would appear as soon as possible before the court. 

"The date of the initial appearance hearing will be announced soon," the ICC said in the statement.

Ban's press office said in a statement that Ongwen's transfer to the court was "a step forward in efforts to bring justice to the thousands of victims of LRA violence in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and CAR over the past 28 years."  

Regional analysts say the LRA abducted Ongwen as a 10-year-old on his way to school in Uganda. Having earned a reputation as a fighter, he quickly rose through rebel ranks.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, urged other LRA members to follow Ongwen's lead. "They should end their lives on the run and turn themselves in," Power said in a statement.  

Editing by Ken Wills

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