ICC to continue proceedings against Congo militia leader Lubanga

[JURIST] The appeals chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] ruled Friday that proceedings can continue [press release] against accused Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [case materials; JURIST news archive]. The trial chamber had ordered Lubanga's release in July after previously ordering a stay [JURIST reports] in the proceedings until the prosecution complied with a directive to provide certain information to the defense. The prosecution appealed the decision [text, PDF; JURIST report] to release Lubanga, arguing that it was unlikely he would be able to be located and re-detained upon resumption of the trial. The appeals chamber concluded [judgment, PDF] that the trial chamber erred in staying the proceedings without first imposing sanctions. The court reversed the release order [judgment, PDF] and ordered proceedings to continue.

Lubanga is accused of war crimes for allegedly recruiting child soldiers to fight in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2002-2003. His trial began in January 2009 but was halted soon after when one of the child witnesses recanted his testimony [JURIST report] that Lubanga had recruited him for the militia. The prosecution concluded its case [JURIST report] last July after presenting 22 weeks of testimony. Lubanga maintains he is innocent [JURIST report] of the charges against him. He became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC, formed in 2002, after he was taken into custody [JURIST report] in March 2006.

 

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