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Archive for Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Alleged Congo warlord ordered to stand trial

January 30, 2007

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— The International Criminal Court on Monday ordered an alleged Congolese warlord to be tried on charges he recruited child soldiers and sent them into battle, making him the first suspect to stand trial at the permanent war crimes court.

The evidence against Thomas Lubanga was strong enough to "establish substantial grounds to believe" that he was responsible "for war crimes consisting of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15," said presiding Judge Claude Jorda of France.

The children were forced to take part in armed conflicts, the three-judge panel found, issuing its findings from a preliminary hearing in November.

Lubanga faces three charges of recruiting and deploying child soldiers in the bloody conflict in the Ituri region of eastern Congo in 2002-03. If convicted, he faces a maximum life sentence.

Lubanga was arrested in March 2005 in Kinshasa. He was transferred in March 2006 to the ICC's detention unit inside a Dutch jail near the North Sea coast. He is the only suspect in the court's custody.

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