Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen

A top rebel commander may not be flown to his native Uganda to file papers for his trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, also jeopardizing a ritual cleansing his family had requested, a government spokesman said Friday.

Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen

Dominic Ongwen, 34, a leader in the Uganda-based Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that has terrorized east and central Africa for decades, was captured last week by US troops who are supporting African Union (AU) forces in the Central African Republic (CAR).

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told dpa that although charges against him had to be filed in Uganda, there were fears his native country would pardon him and not hand him on to the ICC.

“He may not appear here physically, but his papers may be processed from here and he would be flown from CAR straight to The Hague,” Opondo said.

Many former LRA members who surrendered have undergone rituals before being reintegrated into the community.

The rituals may involve stepping on a raw egg covered by wood, slaughtering a goat and placing its guts on the legs of the person being cleansed.

Ongwen had been handed over to AU forces and was due to be taken to Uganda.

The spokesman made his comments after Ongwen’s relatives said they wanted to stage the ritual to cleanse him of bad spirits once they learned he was coming home to deal with the court proceedings.

“Ongwen was abducted [by the LRA] at a young age. Although he could have done bad things, now that he has surrendered, we want to carry out rituals on him like [on] any other formerly abducted persons who return home,” Ongwen’s uncle John Odong told the newspaper Daily Monitor.

Associations representing Ongwen’s Acholi ethnic group expressed support for the ritual as a means of promoting reconciliation between the rebel commander and his community.

But Opondo said Ongwen would not be allowed to undergo the ritual, because he refused to surrender when the government offered a blanket amnesty to the rebels.
GNA

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