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ICC declines to stay proceedings against Congo militia leader Lubanga

The trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Wednesday declined [press release] a request from lawyers for accused Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [case materials; JURIST news archive] to stay the proceedings against him. The trial chamber, in a confidential ruling, rejected contentions of prosecutorial misconduct [AP report] levied by Lubanga's defense team, including allegations that prosecutors, through proxies, offered bribes to witnesses and coached testimony. Lubanga had previously been ordered released from custody and his trial stayed until prosecutors complied with a directive to provide certain information to the defense, though the ICC appeals chamber later rescinded those orders and directed [JURIST reports] the trial to proceed.

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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