ICC Would Indict Gen. Museveni If Evidence Warranted — Top Court Official Says

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Phakiso Mochochoko-- ICC eyes UPDF alleged crimes.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni could also be indicted if there was sufficient evidence tying him to alleged crimes against humanity during his army’s war with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a top ICC official said.

He said the court, which has previously indicted the LRA’s Joseph Kony and his other commanders would also investigate alleged war crime by the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), the national army.

The UPDF and LRA fought between 1987 and 2006; civilians bore the casualties. Hundreds of thousands are believed to have died in government-operated confinement camps.

“If there evidence of crimes, the ICC will not hesitate to indict even president Museveni,” said Phakiso Mochochoko, who heads the court’s Jurisdiction Complementarity, Cooperation division."If anyone has the information that person should come out.” 

When the prosecutor came here recently, she met Uganda government ministers and president Museveni and asked them for their cooperation, I hope the government of Uganda will cooperate with ICC”, he said, referring to the recent visit to Uganda by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

He said the reason the ICC believes that the religious, political and cultural leadership in Acholi sub region will support the ICC court process is because it is seeking to investigate all crimes against humanity committed by both parties involved in Northern Uganda conflict.

Mochochoko was speaking during a  media briefing with journalists from the northern part of Uganda to provide updates on the case against the Lord’s Resistance Army’s Dominic Ongwen, who is now in captivity.

He spoke Thursday at the Northern Uganda Media Club in Gulu.

He stressed that the court was sending clear messages to the country’s war-affected communities, including government soldiers not to intimidate witnesses. If there are any efforts or attempts to intimidate, the witnesses should report such cases to the office of the prosecutor, he said.

He said any alleged crimes against humanity investigations related to the national army, the UPDF, would cover the period from 2002 to 2008, and not transgressions from 1998 or other periods. 

"The ICC is not interested in half justice.When the  Judge decided that the prosecutor should determine whether Dominic Ongwens case should proceed, the evidence collected in year 2006, the implicating evidence for the crimes committed in Lukodi was not adequate to build a solid case,“Mochochoko said 

He said when the Prosecutor was last in the northern part of Uganda, she decided she will look into the  issue of gathering further incriminating evidence,to include Gender-based crimes, recruitment of girls and looking at the little known crimes committed in Odek sub county in Gulu district and Pajule sub county in Pader district to find out if the LRA’s Ongwen was implicated in these gruesome attacks as well.

“The bottom-line is,if we will not have enough evidence by December this year, then Ongwen may not be committed. We appeal to affected communities not to be intimidated as first-hand witnesses, for justice to be done,” Mochochoko observed.

Maria Kamara, the Coordinator for ICC outreach Program who also attended the press briefing said 20 LRA victims and witnesses at Lukodi in Gulu district failed to turn up as ICC witnesses against Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander.

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