By Our reporter
17th Nov 2023
Judges at the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court – ICC in The Hague have withdrawn the arrest warrant against Vincent Otti, the Second-in-Command of the Lord’s Resistance Army – LRA rebels.
The decision of the judges who included Rosario Salvatore Aitala, Tomoko Akane, and Judge Sergio Gerardo Ugalde Godínez was contained in a notice issued today to the Office of the Prosecutor, Legal Representatives of Victims, State Representatives, Office of Public Counsel of Victims, and the Court’s Registry.
On 8 July 2005, the Chamber issued a warrant against Otti but on two previous occasions, the Prosecution made requests for the case against him to be terminated after providing information pointing towards Otti having been killed on or around 2 October 2007 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On 1 December 2022, the Chamber rejected a second request. However, mindful of the ongoing efforts of the Prosecution to collect further information on the basis of which Otti’s death could be established, the Chamber indicated its willingness to consider a new request based on additional evidence.
Having collected further evidence, the prosecution filed the Third Request on 15 November 2023. It explains that although the Ugandan authorities have informed the Prosecution that no death certificate exists, ‘all available evidence indicates that Otti was killed in a remote area of the DRC in October 2007.
Alongside Otti, the ICC also issued a warrant of arrest for Okot Odhiambo, Raska Lukwiya, Dominic Ongwen, and Joseph Kony for two-decade-long gross human rights violations and war crimes against humanity. However, Odhimbo and Lukwiya have been confirmed dead since 2006 and their warrant of arrest consequently dropped.
With Ongwen already in ICC custody following his surrender to the American forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) on 6 January 2015, it is only LRA Chief, Kony who remains at large.
According to the United Nations – UN, the LRA was responsible for more than 100,000 deaths, the abduction of between 60,000 to 100,000 children, and the displacement of 2.5 million civilians between 1987 and 2012.