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ICC judge says war crimes trial of Congo militia leader may be delayed

[JURIST] A judge for the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] said Wednesday that the trial of former Union of Patriotic Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [ICC materials; BBC profile] will likely be postponed for at least two months to allow defense lawyers sufficient time to prepare their case. In November 2007, the ICC set Lubanga's trial date [decision, PDF; JURIST report] for March 31, 2008, but the judge said Wednesday that issues surrounding the involvement of victims in the trial and the disclosure of evidence by the prosecution seem to warrant granting defense lawyers' request for more time. AP has more.

Lubanga appeared before the ICC in March 2006 after he became the first war crimes suspect to be taken into ICC custody [JURIST reports]. Lubanga is charged [JURIST report] with enlisting child soldiers in Congo's violence-plagued Ituri district [HRW backgrounder]. He has denied the charges against him. The ICC has also taken steps to prosecute Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga [BBC report; ICC materials], who has also been accused [JURIST report] of using child soldiers, and former Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) leader Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui [ICC materials; JURIST report], who is accused of planning and carrying out an attack against the village of Bogoro in 2003, killing some 200 persons.

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