[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST news archive] will rule January 29 [ICC press release] on whether war crimes charges [indictment, PDF; additional case materials] will be confirmed against Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [JURIST news archive; TrialWatch backgrounder], a move that would make Lubanga the first ICC defendant. As founder of the militant Union of Patriotic Congolese [Global Security backgrounder], Lubanga is accused of enlisting child soldiers [BBC report] in the Democratic Republic of Congo's violence-plagued Ituri district [HRW backgrounder].
Following a pre-trial hearing [JURIST report] in November, ICC judges have been deliberating over whether there is sufficient evidence to proceed against Lubanga. Lubanga has maintained his innocence, claiming that the prosecution has withheld evidence necessary to prepare a full defense. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] has said that if the charges are confirmed, the ICC could hold its first formal trial in 2007 [JURIST report]. Prosecutors are also preparing to submit evidence [JURIST report] to ICC judges in February regarding crimes committed in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. AFP has more.