International Criminal Court rejects appeal to start trial of Congolese militiaman

4 September 2008

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed an appeal by prosecutors against its earlier decision to suspend the trial of the Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, accused of recruiting child soldiers to serve in his militia.

The court announced the decision in a statement today, noting that judges with the ICC’s trial chamber had made the ruling yesterday.

“The proposals outlined in the application demonstrably fail to meet the prerequisites set out hitherto by the Chamber to enable it to lift the stay of proceedings, and they infringe fundamental aspects of the accused’s right to a fair trial,” according to the decision.

On 13 June the ICC trial chamber imposed a stay on proceedings against Mr. Lubanga after finding that prosecutors had failed to disclose more than 200 documents to the defence that have the potential to prove the militia leader’s innocence.

Mr. Lubanga, the founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), has been charged with a series of war crimes, including conscripting and enlisting child soldiers into the military wing of his group and then using them to participate in hostilities between September 2002 and August 2003.

The trial of Mr. Lubanga was due to have been the first to be held by the ICC, and it had been scheduled to begin on 23 June. He remains in the ICC’s custody until the court makes a final decision on the appeal.

 

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International Criminal Court suspends release of Congolese rebel leader

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has suspended the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congolese rebel militia leader accused of recruiting child soldiers.