Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following the confirmed death of LRA commander Okot Odhiambo
On 27 July 2015, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested the Pre-Trial Chamber to withdraw and render without effect the warrant of arrest issued against former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Okot Odhiambo following confirmation of his death.
Today, ICC judges have withdrawn the warrant of arrest against Mr Odhiambo, one of the top four commanders of the LRA rebel group who have allegedly terrorised Northern Uganda and the Great Lakes region for more than a quarter of a century. According to the OTP investigation, the LRA Commanders including Odhiambo allegedly committed unimaginable crimes; reportedly killing tens of thousands and displacing millions of people. The ICC issued warrants of arrest against the LRA Commanders including Okot Odhiambo in 2005 for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Uganda, including murder, enslavement, enlisting of children, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and pillaging.
Okot Odhiambo was reportedly killed on 14 February 2014 in Central African Republic during a battle between the LRA and the Ugandan army. From August 2014, the OTP worked with various stakeholders including the Ugandan government in order to verify reports of Odhiambo's death. On 20 March 2015, a body was exhumed from the alleged burial site of Odhiambo and transported to Kampala. In June 2015, following rigorous DNA tests, the OTP was able to conclusively confirm that the body that was exhumed was that of Okot Odhiambo.
Okot Odhiambo is the second LRA commander wanted by the Court who has been officially confirmed dead. The first was Raska Lukwiya, another LRA commander, whose death in 2006 was also confirmed following DNA tests. Vincent Otti, the second-in-command of the LRA at the time the ICC issued a warrant of arrest against him in 2005 for crimes against humanity and war crimes, was reportedly executed on orders from Joseph Kony in 2007. The OTP continues to gather information in its efforts to independently verify the reports of Vincent Otti's death.
Okot Odhiambo's death means he has evaded justice at the ICC. However, the confirmation of charges against Dominic Ongwen, another high ranking commander of the LRA is due to start in January 2016. Joseph Kony, the LRA commander-in-Chief is the only LRA commander sought by the ICC and still at large. He must also be brought to justice. The Office urges all States to renew and refocus efforts to secure the arrest of Joseph Kony as well as all other ICC fugitives in other situations. The victims of their crimes have waited far too long and deserve to see justice done.