[JURIST] The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Tuesday ruled [press release] on two separate appeals filed by the Office of the Chief Prosecutor [official website], reversing for now the Trial Chamber's decision to release former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [BBC profiler; JURIST news archive] but dismissing a request [judgment, PDF] that it lift an indefinite stay on his trial. The Appeals Chamber remanded to the Trial Chamber [judgment, PDF] the ultimate question of whether Lubanga should be conditionally or unconditionally released, or whether he should remain in custody. The ICC Trial Chamber in June had imposed an indefinite stay [PDF text] on Lubanga's war crimes trial after accusing the prosecution of using confidentiality agreements to withhold possible exonerating evidence, and in July ordered his release [JURIST report]. According to the Appeals Chamber:
[T]he Trial Chamber was faced with a situation in which a large number of documents containing potentially exculpatory information or information relevant to the preparation of the defence was in the possession of the Prosecutor, but could not be disclosed to Mr. Lubanga Dyilo. Nor could the Trial Chamber have access to the documents in order to assess whether a fair trial could be held even without the disclosure of the documents . . . If the trial of Mr. Lubanga Dyilo had taken place in such circumstances, there would always have been a lurking doubt as to whether the disclosure of the documents in question would have changed the course of the trial.The Appeals Chamber concluded it should remand the release case so the court could "consider all relevant circumstances," rather than concluding that unconditional release of an accused is the "inevitable consequence" when conditional stay of proceedings is granted. The Telegraph has more.
Lubanga, once the leader of the Union of Patriotic Congolese [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], is charged with using child soldiers [JURIST report] in his militia, which allegedly committed large-scale human rights abuses in Congo's violent Ituri district [HRW backgrounder] in 2002. He became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC after he was taken into custody [JURIST reports] in March 2006.