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ICC expects trial of Congo ex-militia leader Lubanga to proceed after evidence glitch

[JURIST] Officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] told journalists Thursday that the trial of Congolese ex-militia leader Thomas Lubanga [ICC materials; BBC profile] would proceed as planned after evidentiary problems which had threatened the case were settled, according to AFP. Late last month, the ICC imposed an indefinite stay [order, PDF; JURIST report] on Lubanga's war crimes trial after it found that the prosecution had used confidentiality agreements to withhold possible exonerating evidence and concluded that Lubanga would be unable to receive a fair trial. The court subsequently ordered Lubanga set free but agreed to suspend his release for five days, giving the prosecution time to appeal. The appeal [PDF], filed Wednesday, requested an indefinite suspension of Lubanga's release while the procedural issues concerning its use of the confidentiality agreements were addressed. The prosecution contends that the previously withheld evidence has now been released to all parties involved in the trial. AFP quoted ICC President Judge Philippe Kirsch [official profile] as saying that the procedural issues would be resolved "shortly". AFP has more.

Once the leader of the Union of Patriotic Congolese [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], 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] is scheduled to be the ICC's first since its creation in 2002.

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