International News

Thomas Lubanga, on trial at the International Criminal Court, will remain in custody

After the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) revoked the decision by the Chamber of First Instance to halt proceedings against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo on 8 October and free him, confirmation was received that the accused will remain in custody and the trial will resume.

The Chamber of First Instance took the decision as in its opinion the accused was not guaranteed a fair trial because the Prosecutor had not followed the judges' order to provide the defence with information on an intermediary. The Appeals Chamber also ruled that the immediate suspension of the trial is too drastic a solution in this case, and that there are other means of making the Prosecutor comply with judicial orders.

Lubanga, leader of the political and military movement Union des patriotes congolais (Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC) is accused of complicity in the forced enlistment and recruitment of minors aged under 15 years old in the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (Forces patriòtiques per l'Alliberament del Congo, FPLC) and making them participate actively in hostilities, often on the front line, at various locations in the Ituri area, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many of these minors lost their lives during the fighting, while others were forced to kill. According to the Statute of Rome, these acts are war crimes. Congolese and international human rights organisations have repeatedly condemned the limited nature of the charges as there is evidence that Lubanga and his militia are also responsible for many other crimes, such as murder, sex crimes and looting, which the ICC Prosecutor did not include in the case against him.

Lubanga was handed over to the ICC in March 2006. The charges against him were confirmed in January 2007, and the trial, the first by the ICC since it was constituted in 2002, began on 26 January 2009.

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