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ICC officials meet with Uganda LRA rebels over 'procedural issues'

[JURIST] Registry officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] met Monday with a delegation of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [MIPT backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to discuss procedural matters regarding the prosecution of several LRA leaders. The ICC said that the meeting was only to discuss procedural issues [press release]:

As a neutral organ that facilitates fair trial, the Registry does not engage in substantive discussions with any of the parties on the merits of cases before the Court. Rather, the Registry is responsible for defence counsel matters and for receiving and distributing all documents and materials used in proceedings before the Court.

The Registry is also responsible for providing support, assistance and information to defence counsel, including the necessary facilities for the direct performance of counsel's duties.
Last week, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] refused [JURIST report] to meet with LRA members who were reportedly planning to seek the withdrawal of ICC warrants [JURIST report] for the arrest of Joseph Kony [BBC profile] and other LRA leaders. The LRA has refused to sign a final peace agreement with the Ugandan government unless the ICC withdraws its indictments [ICC materials; JURIST report] of LRA leaders. The Ugandan government and the LRA have yet to sign a final agreement but reportedly agreed upon the last in a series of key documents related to brokering a peace deal last month. AP has more. The UN News Centre has additional coverage.

The ICC-issued warrants were executed in 2005 and include Kony and LRA senior member Vincent Otti [BBC profiles]. In 2007, Otti was executed by rebels [BBC report], though official confirmation of his death was delayed until January amid fears that it would disrupt peace talks. Kony, who remains in hiding, is wanted for orchestrating the killing of thousands of civilians and the enslavement of thousands more children over two decades of conflict. The LRA and the Ugandan government came to an agreement last month to establish a war crimes court [JURIST report] to prosecute crimes against humanity committed during Uganda's civil war [BBC Q/A]. The government has said that Kony is willing to face trial at home [JURIST report], but not at the ICC.

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