Former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Commander Dominic Ongwen is a proud father of a bouncing new child.
The child whose gender has been concealed was conceived during the second leg of a private family visit his wife and children made last year from the custody of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Detention Center, URN reports.
Ongwen broke the news of the new born child to a group of four leading Acholi leaders who had visited him at the detention center in the Hague on Friday.
The leaders are; Paramount chief of Acholi His Highness David Onen Achana II, the head of the delegation, the Archbishop of Gulu Catholic diocese John Baptist Odama and the retired Bishop Nelson Onono Onweng, the former Bishop of Northern Uganda Anglican diocese as well as Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu district chairperson.
Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Gulu district chairperson says Ongwen was very excited as he broke the news of the birth of the child during the visit which lasted more than one hour.
In Acholi community, male children born in diaspora are named Otim while their female counterparts are named Atim. When dictated by a sad circumstance such as incarceration or calamity, the children are often named Lubangakene to mean God is good in praise of his protective powers.
Ongwen has been locked at the detention center in 2015 after surrendering from the Central African Republic to stand trial at the International Criminal Court for 70 counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual and gender based crimes he is alleged to have committed while serving as alleged commander of the Sinia Brigade.
While in captivity of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Dominic Ongwen fathered more than 20 children with different women he enslaved as wives. Since he returned, he traced and invited the one he loves the most to visit him, during which visit the new child has been born.
Peter Lewis, the registrar of the International Criminal Court had earlier told the delegation that Ongwen is accorded a private family visit in which he has conjugal rights.
Shortly after breaking the news, Ongwen reportedly also requested the delegation to deliver to him some catholic articles of worships including a holy Rosary, Hymns and Prayer books.
Dr John Baptist Odama, the archbishop of Gulu archdiocese told Dominic Ongwen that he will contact the registry of the court to work out a mechanism through which the articles of worship will be delivered.
During the visit, Ojara says Ongwen disclosed a botched plan which Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Okot Odhiambo, former ICC indicted Commander had crafted to execute the Paramount chief of Acholi His Highness David Onen Achana II and other cultural leaders during the failed Juba Peace talks.
According to Ongwen Joseph Kony wanted the cultural leaders killed shortly after Juba peace talks ended to demonstrate to the world that the leaders could not make peace with them.
The South Sudan mediated peace talks ended without the final peace agreement after Joseph Kony refused to show up and sign the final text of the agreement citing failure to withdraw the International Criminal Court arrest warrants which were hanging over five of the group’s top commanders.
According to Ojara, Ongwen revealed that it was him and Ceaser Acellam who rejected the plan on account that murdering cultural leaders constitutes serious taboo and omen under the culture of the Acholi people.
The Paramount Chief of Acholi David Onen is reported to have told Ongwen that he had been informed about the plot by former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who reintegrated into communities. The chief then applauded Ongwen and the other commanders who saved their lives, Ojara Mapenduzi explained.
“It was good Ongwen opened up to confess without duress as he had been waiting for the confession for a long time” Mapenduzi elaborated.
From the detention Center, Ongwen shares the common room with other suspects standing trial at The Hague based court including former President of Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo and his former Minister among others with each of them preparing their separate meals.
For the delegation of Acholi leaders, Ongwen prepared a meal of Pork and Chicken Kikat, a Dutch meal served with Rice and salads. He said it was his honour to serve his visitors in accordance with the Acholi culture.
Under the International Criminal Court’s founding treaty conjugal right is provided for. The other rights are right to an effective defense and fair judge, the right to equality and equal treatment by law, the right of presumption of innocence, negative comments from the public authorities and the right to respect of privacy, family, home and correspondence.
Others are interference in correspondence, the right to be treated with humanity and the right to freedom from torture, the right of the accused person to get notified of the charges in a language he/she understands, the right to legal assistance, the right not to testify against itself or the right to remain silent and the right to be recorded during interrogation.