Lubanga trial resumes at the International Criminal Court 07 Jan 2010
The war crimes trial of Thomas Lubanga has resumed at the International Criminal Court after a five-month hiatus.

On 7 January 2010 the trial of Thomas Lubanga resumed at the International Criminal Court (ICC) before Trial Chamber I. The trial began on 26 January 2009 and was the first ever trial before the international court. The Prosecution closed its case on 14 July 2009 after hearing from 28 witnesses, including former child soldiers.

Lubanga, former leader of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) Hema militia group, is charged with war crimes for conscripting and using child soldiers in 2002-2003 during the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Before the Defence begins its case, the Trial Chamber will hear from two expert witnesses and three victim-witnesses, at the request of the Court. The Court announced that it will hear the testimony of Mrs Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Children and Armed Conflict, who will testify as an expert witness on the definition of conscription or enlistment of children, and on the interpretation of the term "using them to participate actively in the hostilities". Following her testimony the Chamber will hear Professor Kambayi Bwatshia, an expert on names and other social conventions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

After the Court has heard from these witnesses, the Defence will open its case. Lubanga’s defence, led by Catherine Mabille, is expected to present 30 witnesses. The defence case is expected to last several months.

No Charges of Sexual Crimes

The Defence case was scheduled to begin last October. However, the trial was put on hold in pending an appeal against a decision that would have allowed the addition of new charges against Lubanga. On 14 July 2009, Trial Chamber I gave notice that it was considering modifying the legal characterisation of facts in the case to allow the inclusion of the crimes of sexual slavery and inhuman or cruel treatment. The Trial Chamber ruled that it could be possible to add new charges as long as they were based on existing evidence that had emerged at trial. On 8 December 2009 the ICC Appeals Chamber reversed the Trial Chamber’s decision on the grounds that the Trial Chamber’s reasoning had been flawed.

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