International Criminal Court allows hearing in absentia in case against Ugandan rebel leader

Court says it will proceed with hearing process against Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said it will begin a confirmation of charges hearing against Joseph Kony in October, the leader of the rebel outfit in Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The justices instructed the ICC Registry to make efforts to inform Kony, believed to be in the jungles of the Central African Republic, that a confirmation of charges hearing in absentia will take place Oct. 15.

It would be the first-ever hearing in absentia in the global court.

The court said Monday it will proceed whether or not Kony is present in court. An arrest warrant for Kony was issued in 2005 but he remains at large. He is charged with 12 counts of crimes against humanity — murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, rape, inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering — and 21 counts of war crimes, allegedly committed in 2003 and 2004 in northern Uganda.

The Rome Statute of the ICC allows a confirmation of charges proceedings at the pre-trial stage if a suspect cannot be found. If charges are confirmed, the case can proceed to trial only if the accused is present before the Trial Chamber. Confirmation proceedings in absentia would expedite a case against a suspect who cannot be found, however, as held previously by the same Chamber, the proceeding is only applicable in exceptional circumstances.

The ICC awarded reparations last week of $56 million to 49,772 direct and indirect victims of Dominic Ongwen, a convicted commander in LRA.


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