Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced a guilty verdict for Thomas Lubanga Dyillo in his war crimes trial in The Hague. Lubanga was accused of recruiting and conscripting child soldiers as the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, (UPC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to the Lubanga Trial blog:
The ICC judges ruled that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Lubanga is guilty of the crimes charged. Judge Adrian Fulford, Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, in delivering the verdict said that there was reasonable evidence to believe that Lubanga was involved in a recruitment drive for his UPC rebel group and that such drive included conscripting children and using them for combat purposes. The judges also found that Lubanga personally used children as his bodyguards.
Lubanga was the first accused brought into the custody of court. Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009. The defense began presenting its case in January 2010. The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues. The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.
At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders. That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.
The defense has a right to appeal the verdict to the appeals chamber. Now that there is a verdict, the court may also begin the reparations phase and determine the appropriate amount and form of reparations to the victims recognized and allowed to participate in the case.