AMSTERDAM (Reuters) -The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday said he wanted to launch proceedings against fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in his absence.
Prosecutor Karim Khan said he had requested authorisation to hold a hearing on the confirmation of charges against Kony, who is the ICC's longest standing suspect at large.
"This is the first time that my office has made such a request since the establishment of the ICC," Khan said.
"It is both necessary and appropriate to seek to advance proceedings against him to the fullest extent."
An arrest warrant against Kony, the founder and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), was issued in 2005 for 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Allegations against him include murder, cruel treatment, enslavement, rape and attacks against civilian population.
Led by Kony, the LRA terrorized Ugandans for nearly 20 years as it battled the government of President Yoweri Museveni from bases in northern Uganda and neighbouring countries. It has now largely been wiped out.
Khan said his office would "intensify" efforts to get Kony in custody, something he has successfully evaded for the past 17 years.
The prosecutor said he hoped the start of the proceedings would offer a "meaningful milestone" for victims, while also giving an opportunity to present the depth of evidence against Kony he said had been gathered.
The ICC was established in 2002 to try individuals for genocide, war crimes and other major human rights violations.
In May 2021, it sentenced a former Ugandan child soldier who became a commander of the rebel LRA to 25 years in prison for crimes including rape, sexual enslavement, child abduction, torture and murder.
(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Stephanie van den Berg; Editing by Alex Richardson and Tomasz Janowski)