The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor said Thursday he would ask judges to confirm charges against Joseph Kony, the fugitive Ugandan leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, despite him remaining at large.
Kony launched a bloody rebellion more than three decades ago seeking to impose his own version of the Ten Commandments in northern Uganda, and the LRA has since sown terror in four African countries.
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Kony in 2005 on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and US president Barack Obama in 2011 launched a small number of US troops to help regional armies try to capture him.
“However, this arrest warrant remains unexecuted to this day. Mr Kony has sought to evade judicial proceedings at this court for more than 17 years despite continuing efforts,” ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement.
Khan said he had asked judges for authorisation to hold a hearing to confirm the charges against Kony in his absence, adding: “This is the first time that my Office has made such a request since the establishment of the ICC.”
“I have determined it is both necessary and appropriate to seek to advance proceedings against him to the fullest extent compatible with the Rome Statute”, the charter which governs the ICC, he said.
Suspects cannot be tried at the ICC in their absence, but it is possible to hold confirmation hearings while they are still at large, Khan said.
Confirming the charges against Kony would make it easier and quicker to put him on trial should he be captured, the prosecutor added.