Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) gave a boost on Thursday to prosecutors’ efforts to secure a hearing on charges they want to bring against fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in his absence.
Kony, the founder and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is the ICC’s longest standing fugitive. An arrest warrant was issued against him in 2005 for 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
In an interim decision, the judges ruled that prosecutors could file a public document containing the charges they want to bring against Kony.
Once that document is filed, judges will have to ensure that all efforts are made to inform Kony of the case against him before they can agree to a confirmation of charges hearing in absentia, the ruling said.
ICC prosecutor Karim Kahn requested last year a hearing in the case to offer a “meaningful milestone” for victims and to present the depth of evidence gathered against Kony by his office.
Led by Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly 20 years as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in northern Uganda and neighbouring countries. It has now largely been wiped out.
Allegations against Kony include murder, cruel treatment, enslavement, rape and attacks against the civilian population.