Vincent Otti was born around 1946 in the Gulu district of Uganda.
Otti was the second-in-command of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group which terrorized the civilian population in Northern Uganda (see ”related cases”).
After the defection of the LRA’s main negotiator Sam Kolo, Otti became the main interlocutor in the peace talks with the government-supported mediator, former minister Betty Bigombe. From that point, the peace-process became bogged down.
In April 2005, in the course of a reorganisation of the LRA’s four brigades, Vincent Otti was reportedly promoted Lieutenant General of the LRA.
In the second half of September 2005, apparently under pressure from the Ugandan army, Otti led an incursion of a 400-troops-strong faction of the LRA into the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to Congolese government sources, Otti asked for political asylum.
At the beginning of October 2005, reports were leaked that the International Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants for five LRA leaders including Otti, and transmitted them to Uganda, the Congo and Sudan. Hopes for a quick arrest of Otti were however dashed when a few days later he and his forces were pushed back over the border into Sudan by a joint and massive deployment of troops by the Congolese army and the UN Mission in Congo (MONUC).
The Sudanese government has since vowed to apprehend any LRA leader ”to be found“ on its territory.
Based on a bilateral agreement with Sudan, the Ugandan government may pursue LRA rebels on Sudanese territory, but only up to a ”red line“, which is marked by an overland-road about 100 km into the country.
On 10 October however, the Ugandan government reported that Sudan had given them free reign, during one month, to pursue the LRA anywhere across the border.
In December 2003, Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni deferred the situation concerning the LRA in the north of the country to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
In July 2004, the Prosecutor of the ICC formally opened investigations.
On 7 October 2005 Ugandan authorities confirmed the arrest warrants and made public the names of the persons concerned: LRA leader Joseph Kony, his deputy Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, Okot Odiambo and Dominic Ongwen (see “related cases”).
On 13 October 2005, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC unsealed the arrest warrants for Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes committed in Uganda since July 2002. The Chamber concluded that “there are reasonable grounds to believe” that the five LRA commanders “ordered the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court”.
The warrants had been issued under seal on 8 July 2005 in order to ensure the safety of victims, potential witnesses and their families.
Pre-Trial Chamber II decided on 13 October 2005 to unseal the warrants of arrest noting that the plan of security for victims and witnesses had been implemented and that the protective measures were adequate.
The allegations made in the arrest warrant were that in the middle of the year 2002 Joseph Kony ordered LRA forces to begin a campaign of attacks against civilians in Uganda.
It is alleged that in late 2003, Kony issued orders to kill, loot and abduct civilian populations, including those living in camps for internally displaced persons (“IDP”). In response, senior LRA commanders and all of the brigade commanders, including the persons named in the warrants of arrest, began attacking several regions in Uganda.
The warrant of arrest for Vincent Otti listed thirty-two counts on the basis of his individual criminal responsibility (Article 25(3)(b) of the Statute) including:
– Eleven counts of crimes against humanity (murder – Article 7(1)(a); sexual enslavement – Article 7(1)(g); inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering – Article 7(1)(k)), and;
– Twenty-one counts of war crimes (inducing rape – Article 8(2)(e)(vi); intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population – Article 8(2)(e)(i); forced enlisting of children – 8(2)(e)(vii); cruel treatment of civilians – Article 8(2)(c)(i); pillaging – Article 8(2)(e)(v); murder – Article 8(2)(c)(i)).
The LRA has insisted Mr Otti was under house arrest.
According to an article published by the BBC in December 2007, Otti was executed on 2 October 2007 by fellow officers at the home of Joseph Kony.
The LRA first dismissed reports of his death. In an interview on 23 January 2008 the chief of the LRA, Joseph Kony (see “related cases”) confirmed that Otti was dead.
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is a rebel group formed in 1987, which operates mainly in the northern Ugandan region of Acholiland from bases established in southern Sudan.
The LRA is led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed spirit medium who claims to have received the order to form the LRA from the Holy Spirit in order to liberate the people of Uganda “from corruption, sins and immoral thinking“. Whereas Kony’s exact political goals remain unclear, he is said to aim at erecting a Ugandan theocracy based on the Ten Commandments.
While the LRA is not in a position to destabilize the Ugandan government, it has for 18 years terrorized the civilian population in northern Uganda. The LRA has its origin in an uprising of the Acholi people against the south-Ugandan Yoweri Museveni, which started after the latter overthrew the then President Okello in 1986. However, Joseph Kony did not gain the lasting support of the Acholi and was soon forced to retreat into Sudanese territory. Feeling betrayed by his own people, he has since then directed most of the LRA’s attacks against the civilian population of the Acholi.
The main characteristic of the LRA is that it is made up of up to 85% of children between 11 and 15 years of age. To fill their ranks, LRA troops systematically abduct children, using them as soldiers, porters and sexual slaves. According to estimates, some 20’000 children have been abducted. The abducted children are often forced to kill their own parents to destroy any prospect of returning home. To deter the abductees from trying to escape, the LRA force the children to kill those who tried to escape.
The LRA is responsible for widespread abuses against the civilian population. They have killed tens of thousands of civilians, and many more are said to have died as a result of hunger and disease caused by the conflict.
The LRA’s soldiers are notorious for maiming alleged collaborators with the government by cutting off their hands, lips and ears. As a result of their looting and destroying whole villages, up to three quarters of the Acholi people have been forcibly displaced.
Some observers claim that the Sudanese government was supporting the LRA, because Uganda allegedly supported the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the rebel movement which fights the Sudanese government. However, in a 1999 bilateral agreement, the two governments vowed to stop supporting the rebel groups.
Also based on a bilateral agreement with Sudan, the Ugandan government may pursue LRA rebels on Sudanese territory, but only up to a “red line“, which is marked by an overland-road about 100 km into the country.
On 10 October 2005, however, the Ugandan government reported that Sudan had given them free reign, during one month, to pursue the LRA anywhere across the border.