DR Congo

DR Congo: Stay of proceedings in the Lubanga case is lifted - trial provisionally scheduled for 26 Jan 2009

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Situation: Democratic Republic of the Congo

Case: The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

The Hague, 18 November 2008 - Today, Trial Chamber I decided to lift the stay of proceedings in the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo that had been imposed on 13 June 2008. The judges provisionally suggested the date of Monday, 26 January 2009, for the commencement of the trial. The decision of the Chamber is based on the conviction that the reasons for imposing a halt "have fallen away". The full reasoning will be explained in a written decision in due course.

Trial Chamber I decided to impose the stay of proceedings because they came to the conclusion that the prosecution had incorrectly used article 54 (3) (e) of the Rome Statute. This article allows the Prosecutor, exceptionally, to receive information or documents, on the condition of confidentiality, which are not for use at trial, but solely for the purpose of generating new evidence. The Chamber concluded that this misuse has had the consequence that a significant body of exculpatory evidence had not been disclosed to the accused, thereby improperly inhibiting the opportunities for the accused to prepare his defence. Some documents were obtained from information providers, such us the United Nations and NGOs with agreements not to be disclosed.

On 2 July 2008, the judges of Trial Chamber I granted the release of Lubanga Dyilo. According to the judges it was "the logical consequence" of the stay of proceedings as it was impossible to secure a fair trial for the accused. However, Lubanga Dyilo remained under the custody of the Court pending a final decision of the Appeals Chamber.

On 11 July 2008, the Prosecution requested Trial Chamber I to resume trial proceedings and to revoke the order of release for Lubanga Dyilo, but on 3 September the judges decided to maintain the stay they had imposed.

Furthermore, on 21 October 2008, the Appeals Chamber reversed the decision of the Trial Chamber I on the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and decided to remand the matter to the Trial Chamber for a new determination.

Background

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the founder and leader of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) is accused namely of war crimes consisting of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the FPLC, the military wing of the UPC, and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri, from September 2002 to August 2003. He was surrendered and transferred to the Court on 17 March 2006, upon a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I at the request of the Prosecutor.

The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is one of the cases that arose from the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; others are The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui and The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda. Bosco Ntangada remains at large. Investigations are ongoing in the DRC.

For further information please contact Ms Sonia Robla, Head of Public Information and Documentation Section at +31 (0)70 515-8089 or +31 (0) 646448726 or at sonia.robla@icc-cpi.int