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Uganda LRA rebel arrest warrants remain in effect: ICC prosecutor

[JURIST] Arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for the leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [MIPT backgrounder; JURIST news archive] "remain in effect and have to be executed" despite requests from Uganda that they be withdrawn, according to a statement [PDF text] issued by the office of ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo Monday. 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 several LRA leaders. Moreno-Ocampo's statement affirms an assertion by the ICC prosecutor's office in February that the indictments would remain in effect despite a recent agreement between the LRA and the Ugandan government to establish a national war crimes court [JURIST reports]. 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 on Friday. Reuters has more.

The agreement to establish a war crimes court [JURIST report] to prosecute crimes against humanity committed during Uganda's civil war [BBC Q/A] is part of the government's larger effort to broker a peace deal with the LRA. The four ICC-issued warrants were executed in 2005 and include LRA leader Joseph 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 government has said that Kony is willing to face trial at home [JURIST report], but not at the ICC. A fifth arrest warrant was initially issued for Raska Lukwiya but was later withdrawn after a July 2007 ICC pre-trial chamber decision.

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