Seeming calm and composed, Dominic Ongwen appeared before the International Criminal Court (ICC) Monday for an initial hearing to confirm his identity and inform him of the charges against him.
"I was abducted in 1988 and I was taken to the bush when I was 14 years old until now," he told the court in Acholi, a language of northern Uganda. "Prior to my arrival at court, I was a soldier in the LRA," Ongwen, who gave his current age as 40, added according to news agency AFP.
Ongwen surrendered out of the blue earlier this month and was handed over to US forces in the Central African Republic. He had been wanted by the ICC for alleged war crimes for the past decade and the US had offered a $5 million (4.3 million-euro) bounty for his capture. He was sent to an ICC detention center in the Netherlands last week.
The LRA, which began in Uganda and is led by fugitive Joseph Kony, is accused of killing more than 100,000 people and abducting about 60,000 children, forcing them to fight or using them as sex slaves. The LRA's three-decade campaign has spanned several nations in central Africa.
Ongwen is one of five top LRA commanders indicted by the ICC in 2005. Three are believed to have since died, leaving Kony the only one to remain at large.
se/kms (dpa, AP, AFP)