ICC halts Thomas Lubanga’s trial at the Hague

Thomas Lubanga - Accused of War Crimes

An immediate halt has been placed on the trial of accused Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, saying the Office of the Prosecutor refused to turn over information to his defence. The ICC said in a statement that the trial judges ordered the stay in the first case to come before the ICC because “the fair trial of the accused is no longer possible due to non-implementation of the chamber’s orders by the prosecution”.

According to the court, the prosecution did not turn over certain identifying information on an intermediary to Lubanga’s defence, as had been ordered previously. Disclosure of material by the prosecution has been an issue in the Lubanga case for years, with disputes over evidence holding up the trial’s start. The trial chamber said it would consider submissions on possible sanctions against the prosecution for misconduct and submissions on the accused’s detention. It did not elaborate.

But the prosecution said it would appeal the ruling. Lubanga is accused of enlisting and conscripting children under 15 to his Union of Congolese Patroits to kill members of a rival tribe in a 1998-2003 war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has pleaded not guilty and described himself as a politician, not a warlord. The ICC is also trying other accused Congolese warlords for crimes committed during the bitter fighting in the resource-rich country. The trial resumed in January, six months after prosecutors ended their case. His defence has argued the child soldiers who testified against him made up their stories.

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