The International Criminal Court trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was suspended this week for a two week trip for the defense to the Democratic Republic of Congo for important “research,” presumably this means further investigation into the previous allegations that prosecution witnesses lied or were paid to lie about being child soldiers. The trial was earlier suspended on Tuesday because of noted differences in the official English and French transcripts. The reporting from the Open Society Institute, available here, does not make clear whether or not the court had arrived at a resolution of the transcription problem.
The court also ruled that the Lubanga defense could share information on its investigation with the defense team of Germain Katanga, whose trial, along with co-defendant Matthieu Ngdolo Chui was the second trial to start at the ICC. The trial opened on November 26, 2009, and my summary of the case and its opening is available here. Lubanga is the first person to face a trial at the ICC. Lubanga, Katanga, and Chui were rebel leaders in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and are charged with war crimes, and crimes against humanity. There are four witnesses who are scheduled to testify for the prosecution in both cases, and the defenses wished to share the information they had collected in their investigations. Judge Adrian Fulford ruled there was nothing to prevent such sharing between the teams.
Lubanga is accused of using child soldiers in his Union of Congolese Patriots, and Katanga and Chui are charged with using child soldiers, attacking civilian targets, destruction of property, rape and sexual slavery as war crimes, they are also alleged to have committed crimes against humanity, including murder within the court’s jurisdiction, rape and sexual slavery. Another accused from the DRC, Bosco Ntaganda is still at large.
In the cases of the Sudan, one accused, Bahar Idriss Abu Garda voluntarily appeared at the court, and the charges against him were not confirmed. A summary of that action is available here. Three more accused from Sudan remain at large. In the Uganda case there are four accused, all of whom are still at large. In the case involving the Central African Republic, there is one accused, Jean-Pierre Gemba, whose trial is expected to begin April 27, 2010.
The International Criminal Court sits in The Hague, Netherlands and is intended to be a permanent court to hear cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide when those cases are not resolved by national authorities. Thomas Lubanga was the first person brought before the court, he was arrested in 2007, and his trial began in January 2009, the defense began presenting its case in January 2010. There are also victims who have been given a limited right to participate in the case, and then to seek reparations if they can establish their right to do so.