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Congo ex-militia leader seeks dismissal of ICC war crimes charges

[JURIST] Defense counsel for Thomas Lubanga [ICC materials; BBC profile] moved to dismiss all charges against the former Congolese militia leader at an International Criminal Court (ICC) status conference at The Hague Tuesday on the ground that prosecutors have refused to provide documents [defense materials, in French] that could aid Lubanga’s defense. The Office of the Prosecutor filed an explanation [PDF text; PDF, supplement] of its refusal last week, contending that it received most of the documents “on the condition of confidentiality and solely for the purpose of generating new evidence.” A ruling on the issue is expected at the next status conference on Wednesday, and the trial is set to begin in two weeks [ICC schedule]. AP has more.

Once the leader of the Union of Patriotic Congolese militia, Lubanga is charged with using child soldiers [JURIST report; BBC report] in his militia, which is believed to have committed large-scale human rights abuses in Congo's violent Ituri district [HRW backgrounder]. He became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC after he was taken into custody [JURIST reports] in March 2006. Lubanga’s long-delayed trial [JURIST report] will be the ICC’s first since its creation in 2002.

6/11/08 The Court announced [ICC press release] Wednesday that Lubanga's trial will not begin on June 23, as was originally planned, but did not provide reasons for its decision.

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