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ICC to investigate Ugandan army

By Samson Ntale, For CNN

Munyonyo, Uganda (CNN) -- Citing increased complaints from Ugandans, mainly from the war-ravaged northern region, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) said Thursday he plans to investigate the country's army over alleged crimes against humanity.

"I have received complaints from many affected people in Uganda and human rights activists about (the) Uganda army's alleged atrocities they committed during many years of insurgency in the north," said Luis Moreno-Ocampo.

Most of the complaints against the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF), as the army is known, are from before 2002, and the ICC does not have jurisdiction to investigate those, he said.

"I follow crimes committed after July 2002, which include crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide," he said.

Moreno-Ocampo spoke shortly after meeting former U.N. Undersecretary for Children, Olara Otunnu, who has accused government of President Yoweri Museveni of various crimes over the years.

"We are here to manage conflict including violence," Moreno-Ocampo said. "If he (Otunnu) has information he wants to submit, let him give it to me for as long as it does not predate 2002."

Moreno-Ocampo said he would assess the information Otunnu submitted to him but had asked for more specifics about cases of atrocities allegedly committed by the UPDF.

"If we see (a) need to open new investigations, we shall. They are important and I can investigate if he gives me real information," he told journalists.

Otunnu alleges the Ugandan army committed atrocities in northern Uganda during the more-than two-decade-long insurgency led by the vicious Lord's Resistance Army, whose leader Joseph Kony and four of his commanders are indicted by the court.

He argues the UPDF is equally culpable for crimes against humanity and war crimes like their enemy, the LRA, but Moreno-Ocampo told Otunnu to file a formal case with ICC.

Moreno-Ocampo advised Otunnu to go to the High Court of Uganda in such instances where the ICC has no jurisdiction.

"We selected the gravest cases in northern Uganda and it's a fact that thousands of these were committed by the LRA," Moreno-Ocampo said. "It is clear Joseph Kony committed most of the crimes in northern Uganda.

"We will respond to any communication sent to us in terms of evidence but on cases not predating 2002," he explained.

In reaction, Deputy Attorney General Fredrick Ruhindi told a separate press conference, "If Otunnu has decided to take his matters to the press instead of through official channels, he is free to do so."