Dominic Ongwen biography: 13 things about Ugandan former child soldier, ex-LRA commander


Dominic Ongwen was born in Choorum, Kilak County, Amuru, Uganda. He is the former commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group that used to operate in the country.

Ongwen is a former child abductee and child soldier. Here are 13 more things about him:

  1. He was born Dominic Okumu Savio. (a)
  2. He is fourth son of Ronald Owiya and Alexy Acayo, who were schoolteachers in Paibona, Uganda. (a) 
  3. When he was a child, he was quiet and playful, according to his uncle Johnson Odong. He enjoyed cultural dance classes and other areas of the arts, according to primary school teacher P’Atwoga Okello. (b) 
  4. He was 14 years old when he was as abducted and taken to the bush in 1988, according to him. After his abduction, he lived with LRA leader Joseph Kony. (b) (c)
  5. Within a month of his abduction, both of his parents were killed, according to Odong. (b)
  6. In the LRA, he became a protégé of  Vincent Otti, who went on to become Kony’s deputy. He was in his late 20s when he won the confidence of Kony and became a brigadier. (b)
  7. He was accused of committing numerous crimes against girls and women, including forced marriage, forced pregnancy, rape and sexual slavery, in Northern Uganda from July 1, 2002 to December 31, 2005. (d)
  8. In 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrant for him. (b) 
  9. In 2013, the United States offered $5m reward for information leading to his arrest. (b) 
  10. In 2014, the ICC detained him and charged him with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. (c)
  11. On January 21, 2016, he stood before the ICC wearing a gray suit and tie. He listened to the proceedings translated into his native Acholi language and waived the right to have each of the 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity charges against him read aloud in court. (c)
  12. On November 27, 2017, the question of whether he fathered 12 children during his time with the LRA was the subject of the hearing at the ICC. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) expert Ate Kloosterman told the court that two separate tests on samples from the 12 children showed that 11 of them are most likely his children. (e)
  13. On February 4, 2021, ICC judges Betram Schmitt, Peter Kovacs and Raul C. Pangalangan found him guilty of 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity. (d)



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