Thursday, July 8, 2010
The International Criminal Court suspended proceedings in the case of a Congolese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, saying that prosecutors have refused orders to disclose information to his defence.
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), faces two counts of war crimes: conscripting and enlisting child soldiers into the military wing of his group and then using them to participate in hostilities between September 2002 and August 2003.
His trial began at The Hague, where the ICC is based, in January 2009.
The Court’s Trial Chamber I ordered to stay the proceedings “considering that the fair trial of the accused is no longer possible due to non-implementation of the Chamber’s orders by the Prosecution.”
The judges had ordered the Office of the Prosecutor to confidentially disclose to the defence the names and other necessary identifying information of “intermediary 143,” according to a news release issued by the ICC.
The Trial Chamber considered that “in order for the Chamber to ensure that the accused receives a fair trial, it is necessary that its orders, decisions and rulings are respected, unless and until they are overturned on appeal, or suspended by order of the Court.”
Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern – namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The UN Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the Court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.
(From a UN press release)