May 25, 2008 / 1:02 PM / 12 years ago

ICC probes new accusations against Uganda rebels

KAMPALA (Reuters) - The International Criminal Court said on Sunday it was investigating accusations of new crimes by Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, whose leader Joseph Kony already faces 33 counts at the Hague tribunal.

Talks to end the 21-year LRA insurgency, which has wrecked north Uganda and brought trouble to south Sudan and east Congo, looked close to completion last month, but Kony failed to appear at a signing ceremony in a remote forest.

His main concern is how to avoid warrants from the Hague-based ICC and face, instead, some sort of justice and integration in Uganda.

Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo said the ICC was probing crimes including alleged abductions and attacks by LRA fighters, who are said to be split between camps in Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic.

“This latest attack on another Congolese village is one of many committed by the LRA and is of concern to the Office of the Prosecutor,” Ocampo said of one accusation in an emailed response to questions from Reuters.

“These attacks are happening and continue to happen under the pretext of peace talks. This is unacceptable ... The Office of the Prosecutor is now actively collecting evidence regarding these latest crimes.”

He urged the international community to execute existing ICC warrants against LRA leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Kony’s 21-year insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced 2 million. Kony and two deputies are wanted by the ICC for abducting children, massacres and mutilations.

Rights groups say that despite the peace process this year, LRA fighters have kidnapped children in Democratic Republic of Congo, south Sudan and Central African Republic to use as porters or sex slaves, and train as soldiers.

(Reporting by Frank Nyakairu; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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