Congo militia leader makes first appearance at ICC

Congo militia leader makes first appearance at ICC

[JURIST] As anticipated [JURIST report], Thomas Lubanga [Trial Watch backgrounder], founder of the militant Union of Patriotic Congolese [Global Security backgrounder], appeared in the International Criminal Court [official website; JURIST news archive] at The Hague Monday, accused of using child soldiers [BBC report] in the violence-plagued Ituri district [HRW backgrounder]. In court the defendant confirmed his identity and heard his rights before he refused to hear the charges against him. His next hearing is scheduled for June 27 [ICC press release], at which point the court will specify the exact charges Lubanga faces.

Pressure to arrest warlords in the mineral-rich Ituri district increased with the February 2005 murder of nine UN peacekeepers [PBS report]; a month later Lubanga was arrested for human rights violations [JURIST report]. Congolese officials sent Lubanga to The Hague [JURIST report] last week, making him the first prisoner of the tribunal. Reuters has more.