[JURIST] The Democratic Republic of Congo Friday sent Thomas Lubanga [Trial Watch backgrounder], leader of the ethnic militia-turned-political party Union of Congolese Patriots [Global Security backgrounder], to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST news archive], making him the first prisoner delivered to new international criminal tribunal in The Hague. Lubanga is accused of widespread human rights abuses in eastern Congo’s Ituri district [HRW backgrounder], and is suspected of ordering the killing of nine UN peacekeepers in 2005. The ICC also says that Lubanga committed a war crime by filling the ranks of his militia with child soldiers [BBC report]. Read the ICC press release.
Established in 2002, the ICC has already launched investigations into Congo and Sudan’s Darfur region, and issued its first warrants for five leaders of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army last year. The ICC completed construction of 12 prison cells [JURIST report] in February, and expects to begin its first trials in mid-2006 [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.