Congo Watch: ICC renews call for Ugandan LRA rebel leader Kony's arrest

Monday, October 06, 2008

ICC renews call for Ugandan LRA rebel leader Kony's arrest

Copy of AFP report via MONUC Monday, 06 October 2008 - ICC renews call for Ugandan rebel leader Kony's arrest:

THE HAGUE, Oct 6, 2008 (AFP) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court renewed calls Monday for the arrest of Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony following attacks by the Ugandan rebel group on Congolese citizens.

"In the light of serious and converging information on attacks by the LRA against civilians in the DRC, ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo calls for renewed efforts to arrest LRA leader Kony and his top commanders," said a statement issued in The Hague.

"The criminals remain at large and continue to commit crimes and they are threatening the entire region. Arrest is long overdue."

The prosecutor claimed the LRA attacked villages in the Haut Uele district of the Democratic Republic of Congo on September 17.

"These attacks all follow a similar method with markets surrounded and looted, students abducted from school, properties burned and dozens of civilians killed, including several local chiefs," said the statement.

"Tens of thousands have now been displaced.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Kony and two other top LRA commanders, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, in 2005.

They are accused of raping and mutilating civilians, enlisting child soldiers and massacring thousands.

In July, southern Sudanese lawmakers urged the ICC to defer the indictments to encourage the rebel leaders to sign a Sudan-mediated Ugandan peace agreement.

Kony has so far refused to sign the accord on the basis of the ICC arrest warrants.

"Kony -- just as he has many times in the past -- uses the peace talks to gain time and support, to rearm and attack again," said the prosecutor's statement.

"The price paid today by civilians is high."

Moreno-Ocampo's office urged regional and international organisations to support DR Congo and Uganda in planning and executing the arrests.

A semi-literate former altar boy, Kony took charge in 1988 of a regional rebellion among northern Uganda's ethnic Acholi minority.

Twenty years of fighting between the rebels and government forces have left tens of thousands dead and displaced two million people, mainly in northern Uganda.

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