Vincent Otti, the second-in-command of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels has been dropped from the International Criminal Court’s “wanted list”, according to a latest communication by the Court’s Prosecutor.
In October 2007, reports emerged that Otti had been killed by his boss, Joseph Kony, but, there was no reliable confirmation and the International Criminal Court (ICC) insisted it was waiting to carry out its own probe into the report before scrapping arrest warrants earlier issued against him.
While there has been no direct official confirmation by ICC, Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Prosecutor in a latest communication on the pending arrest warrants in the Uganda case, mentioned only Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen as the suspects the court is seeking to arrest.
The communication in audio form that was distributed in English, Acholi, French, Swahili and Sango languages, adds that the court has information that members of the rebel group were being told they would be tortured and killed if they surrendered.
In the message, Bensouda however, assured the rebels that they would not be tortured or killed but given lawyers of their choice and accorded trial to international standards. She further assured the suspects that they would not be sentenced to death if convicted because the court does not award death sentences. She however warned that the top three LRA commanders could be wounded if intercepted by the military forces in their pursuit. She also appealed to the rest in the LRA ranks to abandon violence and return home.
The ICC Outreach Office in Uganda has declined to comment on the omission of Vincent Otti’s name from the list of LRA’s wanted commanders. A source at the office referred Uganda Radio Network to the ICC Communication Office at The Hague. However, repeated calls to The Hague-based Communications Officer went unanswered.
In 2007, the court terminated proceedings against Raska Lukwiya; LRA’s Deputy Army Commander after it confirmed he had died in 2006.
The LRA top commanders are wanted to answer to charges of crimes against humanity such as murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, inflicting serious bodily injury, inducing rape and forced enlistment of children among others.
Joseph Kony leads in the individual responsibility of the offences with a total of sixty six different counts of charges. Previously operating in parts of northern Uganda where most of the crimes were committed, the rebels have since moved to parts of South Sudan, DR Congo and Central African Republic where they have eluded arrest for years