Former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [case materials] on Wednesday appealed his conviction and sentence from the International Criminal Court [official website]. Lubanga was convicted [JURIST report] in March for the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities. As a result of the conviction, he received a 14-year sentence [JURIST report] from the ICC. Lubanga's lawyers are seeking [AFP report] to have the conviction and the sentence replaced with an acquittal. Lubanga has maintained his innocence [JURIST report] throughout the trial.
The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [ICC information sheet] is a landmark case for the ICC because Lubanga was the first prisoner taken into custody [JURIST report] and delivered to the international criminal tribunal in The Hague. The prosecution concluded its case [JURIST report] in July 2009 after presenting 22 weeks of testimony. Lubanga's trial began in January 2009 after being delayed for evidentiary reasons and was then halted soon afterward when one of the child witnesses recanted his testimony [JURIST reports] that Lubanga had recruited him for the militia. He was charged with recruiting child soldiers [JURIST report] in 2006. In March 2006, he was taken into ICC custody [JURIST report], becoming the first DRC war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC.