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Congo militia leader to face first ICC trial in March 2008

[JURIST] The trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] issued a decision [PDF text; press release] Monday setting the trial date for former Union of Patriotic Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [ICC materials; BBC profile] for March 31, 2008. The trial chamber also set December 14 as the date when prosecutors must turn over all evidence to Lubanga's defense lawyers. Lubanga is charged [JURIST report] with enlisting child soldiers in the violence-plagued Ituri district [HRW backgrounder]. He has denied the charges against him. Lubanga's trial will be the first for the ICC.

Lubanga became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC after he was taken into ICC custody [JURIST reports] in March 2006. The ICC has also taken steps to prosecute Germain Katanga [BBC backgrounder; ICC materials], a Congolese militia leader, who has also been accused of using child soldiers. Reuters has more.

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