The chief prosecutor of the ICC requested an 'in absentia' hearing against Joseph Kony: he has been a fugitive for 17 years

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The LRA leader has evaded capture attempts for nearly two decades by the body, which wants him for 33 offences, including murder, slavery and rape

The chief prosecutor of the ICC requested a hearing

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court requested an 'in absentia' hearing against Joseph Kony for war crimes

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, on Thursday asked the body for the first time in its history to hold an absentee hearing against the Ugandan Joseph Kony

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader is the longest-standing suspect in this court in The Hague and is charged with 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity with charges including murder, cruel treatment, enslavement, rape and attacks against the civilian population.

Khan filed the request with the ICC pre-trial chamber, which seeks to hold a hearing confirming the charges against Kony “in his absence”. This is the first time the prosecutor's office has made such a request since the agency's establishment in 2002.

Investigations into the situation in Uganda began in 2004 and a year later, in 2005, an international arrest warrant was issued against the accused . However, she has not yet been executed as Kony is missing. Some sources believe that he could be hiding in South Sudan , in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), or in Central African Republic (CAR). . As a result, Kony became the oldest suspect in the Court.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC requested an ‘in absentia’ hearing against Joseph Kony: he has been a fugitive for 17 years

Joseph Kony has been on the run for more than 17 years and is wanted for more than 33 war crimes and crimes against humanity (AP)

The LRA leader has been on the run for more than 17 years eluding Khan's efforts to find and capture him, even despite his and his Bureau's commitment to intensify their efforts to track him down.

“Kony has tried to evade legal proceedings in this court for more than 17 years despite continued efforts to track him down and detain him, with the help of states, international organizations and civil society actors. I have determined that it is both necessary and appropriate to try to advance the proceedings against him to the fullest extent compatible with the Rome Statute (founding treaty of the ICC)”, commented the prosecutor.

If the application is accepted, this could be a“significant milestone” for the victimsof the multiple crimes perpetrated by Kony, who “have peacefully awaited justice for nearly two decades,” Khan continued. In addition, he explained that it will allow, in the future, the trial on the case to be carried out “in a faster and more effective way”.

The chief prosecutor of the ICC requested a hearing ‘in absentia’ against Joseph Kony: he has been on the run for 17 years

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan

During the hearing, victims will be able to present evidence supporting their claims and both witnesses and survivors will be able to provide their accounts in court.

The United Nations Children's Fund (< b>Unicef) estimates that 20,000 children were captured by the LRA and turned into soldiers or sexual slaves of the highest-ranking commanders. The Army was known for mutilating, kidnapping and planting antipersonnel mines during the civil war which over two decades took place in northern Uganda.

In 2021, the ICC sentenced Ugandan child soldier and former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen to 25 years in jail for 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 2002 and 2005. His defense, however, argued during the trial that his client was a subordinate and victim of Kony and, therefore, had committed these crimes to “survive”.The chief prosecutor of the ICC requested a hearing ‘in absentia’ against Joseph Kony: he has been a fugitive for 17 years

The civil war caused the transfer of more than two million people to refugee camps and severely affected the economy (REUTERS)

This civil war caused the transfer of more than two million < /b>of people to refugee camps and seriously affected the economy and social fabric of a region that, to this day, remains the poorest in Uganda.

Although the government and the rebels failed to reach a peace agreement, the war ended in 2006, when the LRA was forced to < b>leave the country.

(With information n of EFE and Europa Press)

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