On January 7th, the Defense will begin to put in its case in the Thomas Lubange Trial at the International Criminal Court. The trial started on January 26, 2009. Lubanga is accused of using child soldiers and other war crimes.
The prosecution case lasted for 22 weeks and presented 28 witnesses. The case has been adjourned since July 26, 2009, while the court considered a request to amend the charges to include sexual slavery. The appeals chamber denied that request in December and the defense may now begin their presentation.
103 victims are participating in the case, represented by three teams of lawyers. Victims have a right to participate, ask some questions of witnesses and ultimately seek reparations for the harms they have suffered. Those reparations may include material support while cases are ongoing and physical and pyschological rehabilitation services. This process is unique to the ICC and the Lubanga case is its first test.
Victims wishing to participate must establish for the court their identity as victims, by filling out forms. They may however participate anonymously. Victims have the right to court appointed counsel and may choose their own counsel. Victims who do not select their counsel at the time of application may be assigned to the Office of Public Counsel for Victims rather than a lawyer who practices in their geographic area.