Tuesday 14 July 2009

ICC prosecutor says Joseph Kony and Sudan's Bashir must be arrested and face trial

The ICC's chief prosecutor says Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony will never agree to a peace deal and urges the world to focus on arresting him. He also calls for the arrest of Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said attempts to draw Ugandan rebel Joseph Kony into peace talks will not work and that international efforts should refocus on arresting the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader.

Previous mediation efforts in 2007 and 2004 failed and served only to allow Kony, who has led a brutal 22-year rebellion in northern Uganda, to recruit and re-arm, ICC chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said late on Monday (July 13).

"I think it is the first time everyone is in agreement: Kony has to be arrested. It is not a war because Kony replaced the soldiers killed, Kony will abduct more children if you just kill soldiers, so it is not about attack the group as such, it's arrest Kony himself and I think we never tried, no one tried this: arresting Kony himself and that has to be the operation we are trying to support," he told Reuters Television in Kampala.

Kony has said he will surrender only if the ICC warrants, issued against him in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, are withdrawn.

"This is fantasy, I'm sorry. Kony will never make peace. Kony....five times...when he is weak he calls for peace negotiation, then he gets money, he gets food, he buys weapons and he attacks again. How many times he will cheat? Look, in September 2007 in the middle of the negotiations Joseph Kony killed Vincent Otti, the number two, because Otti was more engaged in the peace negotiations. In 2004 it was the same because Kolo was involved in the peace negotiations and then he was attacked and he had to escape, so why do people believe that Kony wants to make peace?" the chief prosecutor said.

Following a Ugandan-led assault on LRA camps in eastern DR Congo late last year, the rebels have carried out numerous reprisal attacks on civilians, killing over 1,000 and capturing thousands more.

The multinational offensive, launched with logistical and intelligence support from the United States, failed in its attempt to destroy Kony's army.

Uganda was the first country to refer a case to the ICC when it secured indictments for Kony and four other LRA lieutenants.

Moreno-Ocampo also called on Uganda on Monday to act on an ICC arrest warrant against Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir if he comes to Kampala for an international conference at the end of the month. He cited the case of South Africa where he said the possibility of detention stopped Bashir attending President Jacob Zuma's inauguration in May.

"I think the way to do it is the way South Africa did it: yes they invite President Bashir but also they inform President Bashir that they have an obligation under the Rome Statute to arrest him, so Bashir decided not to go and probably Bashir will decide not to come," he told Reuters Television.

Media in the region say Bashir has been considering attending a global affairs meeting, called Smart Partnership Dialogue, along with other heads of state, at the end of July.

Sudanese officials seldom confirm his trips in advance.

Uganda is a signatory to the ICC, so a visit by the Sudanese leader would force Kampala to decide if it implements or ignores the arrest warrant, which has stirred controversy across Africa.

The ICC has indicted Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and torture.

Elsewhere in Africa, former UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan was involved in negotiating a settlement after the violence that broke out in Kenya after the 2007 general elections. He recently gave an envelope with details of the alleged funders and organisers of the violence to the ICC and Moreno-Ocampo said he was deciding what course of action to take.

"I will receive the material this Thursday but I will tell you what I will do: I will open the envelope, I will read, I will understand what the commission was discussing and then I will seal it again, I will not use it again, because I have to make my own conclusions, I have to collect my own evidence and make my own conclusions. I appreciate very much the information they collected, I will see also what the Kenyan government collected, and I will see, because if the Kenyan authorities conduct national proceedings I will not intervene. If they are not conducting, I will intervene, so this is just preparation for me, it is just preparation, but the envelope is just an advice, it is not mandatory for me at all," he said.

About 1,500 people were killed and hundreds of thousands made homeless after the post-election violence in Kenya. The opposition Orange Democratic Movement claimed that President Mwai Kibaki's Party of National Unity had rigged the elections to stay in power.

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