KAMPALA, Jan 17- Captured Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen has been handed over to the Central African Republic to be transferred to the International Criminal Court, the Ugandan army said on Saturday.
Ongwen surrendered last week, dealing a major blow to the LRA’s three decade long campaign across several central African nations. He has been sought by the ICC for almost a decade to face charges including war crimes, murder, enslavement, inhumane acts and directing attacks against civilians.
Ugandan army spokesman Paddy Ankunda said in a statement that Ongwen had been “flown to Bangui for further management” and was “destined to (the) Hague”.
Ongwen first gave himself to US troops in CAR, and was then handed over to Uganda’s army, then to African Union troops and finally to the CAR’s government, according to Ugandan officials.
Uganda said the final stage of the handover was witnessed by a US diplomat, but could not confirm if Ongwen was still in Bangui or on a plane bound for The Hague.
A former child soldier himself, Ongwen was a senior aide to LRA leader and warlord Joseph Kony, who is still at large and being pursued by regional troops and US special forces.
The LRA first emerged in northern Uganda in 1986, where it claimed to fight in the name of the Acholi ethnic group against the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
But over the years the LRA has moved across the porous borders of the region: it shifted from Uganda to sow terror in southern Sudan before again moving to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and finally crossing into southeastern CAR in March 2008.
Combining religious mysticism with an astute guerrilla mind and bloodthirsty ruthlessness, Kony has turned scores of young girls into his personal sex-slaves while claiming to be fighting to impose the Bible’s Ten Commandments.