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ICC inquires into establishment of Special Courts for LRA

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By James Gatdet Dak

March 25, 2008 (JUBA) — The International Criminal Court (ICC) inquires into establishment of the Ugandan government’s proposed Special Courts to try the indicted three top leaders of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army/Movement (LRA/M) per the agreement on accountability and reconciliation signed in Juba by the two warring parties.

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LRA soldiers stand guard at the assembly point in Owiny Ki Bul, some 160km (100 miles) south of Juba, Sudan in this Sept 20, 2006. (Reuters).

The ICC accuses LRA leader Joseph Kony and three other commanders of raping and mutilating civilians, enlisting child soldiers and massacring thousands during a 20-year rebellion. The court issued arrest warrants against the men in 2005 for committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The leader of the LRA/M peace delegation, David Matsanga, on his return from the ICC in The Hague on Thursday March 20 told the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan and Chief Mediator of the Ugandan peace talks, Riek Machar that officials of the ICC wanted to know if steps have already been taken by the Ugandan government in establishing the proposed Special Courts.

Matsanga who went to The Hague with his team of lawyers to try to convince the ICC prosecutors to suspend the arrest warrants said that the prosecutors were specific to know, among other things, who are the personnel of this Special Courts and from where does it get its funding and how will it categorize crime cases.

He said the ICC officials wanted the response from the Ugandan government on these issues by March 28 before they could make their position known.

Earlier, LRA delegations demanded the suspension of the ICC indictment in order to pave way for their leader, Joseph Kony to travel to Juba and sign the final peace agreement with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

In a BBC interview this month, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni said he would not handover to the ICC Joseph Kony and two other LRA commanders, arguing that his government’s justice mechanisms and traditional mechanisms in northern Uganda would deal with the matter.

The two parties on Tuesday agreed on the text of the Final Peace Agreement and its Implementations Schedules setting out timeframes by which the agreement will be implemented.

The date for the signing ceremony of the final agreement in Juba is re-scheduled to take place on April 5, 2008.

(ST)

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