International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Dissent in Lubanga Appeal Decision Highlights Fair Trial Concerns

The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued its first appellate decision in the case against Thomas Lubanga, upholding his conviction and sentence for war crimes relating to child soldiers. However, a strong dissent was issued by Judge Anita Ušacka, who stated that she would have reversed the conviction and acquitted Mr. Lubanga, vacating his sentence.

The majority appellate decision relied upon the law regulating appeals to find that the trial chamber overall had not acted beyond the limits of its discretion. The appeals judges found that the trial chamber’s conviction and sentence were within the bounds of a reasonable arbiter of fact. The appeals judges also affirmed that the accused charged as a co-perpetrator need not “personally directly” commit the alleged … Continue Reading

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Appeals Judges Uphold Lubanga’s ICC Conviction and Prison Sentence

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have upheld the conviction of Congolese opposition leader Thomas Lubanga, who in March 2012 became the first individual to be convicted by the court.

The judges, who delivered their judgment this afternoon, also confirmed the 14-year prison sentence that trial judges handed Mr. Lubanga.

The prosecution had asked judges to raise the sentence, terming the 14 years “manifestly disproportionate” to the crimes he was convicted of. Mr. Lubanga had asked the appeals judges to lower the sentence.

In a ruling read by Judge Erkki Kourula, a majority of judges rejected all seven of Mr. Lubanga’s appeal grounds. Judge Anita Ušacka dissented, while Judge Sang-Hyun Song partially dissented.

The former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) … Continue Reading

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Judgement in Lubanga’s Appeal to be Announced December 1

The verdict in Thomas Lubanga’s appeal against the conviction and 14-year jail sentence handed to him by trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be announced on December 1, 2014.

According to a November 18, 2014 scheduling order, the appeals judgment shall be delivered in open court at 4:30 in the afternoon in The Hague. Judges who handled the appeals are Erkki Kourula (Presiding), Sang-Hyun Song, Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, Anita Ušacka, and Ekaterina Trendafilova.

In 2012, Mr. Lubanga became the first person to be convicted by the court. Trial judges found him guilty of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 in his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia and actively using them in an armed conflict in the Ituri … Continue Reading

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Why ICC Prosecutor Did Not Charge Intermediaries Over Witness Tampering

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) at the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not initiate investigations or prosecutions against three intermediaries accused of coaching and corruptly influencing witnesses during the trial of Thomas Lubanga.

The OTP also did not take any action against three individuals who conspired and purportedly stole identities in order to participate as victims in the trial at the court based in The Hague.

According to prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, investigating or prosecuting the intermediaries could “have no effect on the conviction rendered by the Trial Chamber against Mr. Lubanga” because the judges based their verdict on evidence provided by witnesses other those who had contact with the intermediaries.

Ms. Bensouda made these explanations in response to a March 3, 2014 … Continue Reading

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Age of Soldiers at Center of Lubanga Appeals Hearing

On the last day of the appeals hearing for Thomas Lubanga, the age of the young soldiers who served in the militia he led remained at the center of submissions by his defense and by prosecutors.

Mr. Lubanga himself made an unsworn statement at the end of the hearing, stating that it was “incomprehensible” that International Criminal Court (ICC) judges convicted him of recruiting and using child soldiers in armed conflict.

“I have spent nine years in preventative detention. It is long and terrible for a human being,” he said. “It is all the more terrible to do so thousands of kilometers from my native environment, my family, and my children.”

Mr. Lubanga said what made him despair in the proceedings was “the … Continue Reading

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Prosecutor Suggests Limits to Lubanga’s Address to Appeals Judges

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked judges to restrict the issues that Thomas Lubanga may speak about when he addresses the court at the closure of his appeals process.

Mr. Lubanga, who was convicted in March 2012 over the use of child soldiers, is scheduled to address the court on May 20 at the conclusion of the appeals hearing on his conviction and 14-year jail sentence. In the order scheduling the appeals hearing, judges did not specify the exact nature of Mr. Lubanga’s oral statement before the chamber.

However, in a May 2 submission, the prosecutor suggests that Mr. Lubanga’s personal address should not “stray” into areas that would ordinarily fall within the role of his defense lawyers. She said … Continue Reading

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Lubanga Appeals Witnesses to Testify on May 19 and 20

The hearing of the testimony of ‘Witness D-0040′ and ‘Witness D-0041′ in support of Thomas Lubanga’s appeals at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been rescheduled to take place on May 19 and 20, 2014.

During the hearings, the two individuals who are expected to testify via video link from an undisclosed location will be questioned by Mr. Lubanga’s lawyers first, followed by the prosecutor. Thereafter, appeals judges will put questions to the witnesses and the defense will have the opportunity to conduct redirect examination.

The hearing is also expected to serve as an opportunity for parties and participants to make oral submissions and observations before appeals judges. Before the closure of the hearing, Mr. Lubanga is expected to address the chamber.

In … Continue Reading

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Lubanga Appeals Hearing Postponed

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have postponed the testimony of two witnesses who were scheduled to give evidence in support of Thomas Lubanga’s appeal against his conviction and 14-year prison sentence.

‘Witness D-0040′ and ‘Witness D-0041′ were expected to testify on April 14 and 15 via video link from an undisclosed location. However, the court’s registry informed judges that it was not possible to organize the logistics necessary for the witnesses to testify on these dates.

On March 14, 2012, Mr. Lubanga was found guilty as a co-perpetrator of recruiting, conscripting, and using child soldiers in the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). The judges found that these children were actively used in an armed conflict during 2002 and … Continue Reading

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Two Witnesses to Testify at Lubanga Appeals Hearing

Thomas Lubanga, the first person convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), will call two witnesses next month to provide additional evidence in support of his appeals against conviction and 14-year jail term.

According to an order issued Friday by the Appeals Chamber, ‘Witness D-0040’ and ‘Witness D-0041’ would testify on April 14 and 15 via video link from an undisclosed location.

In March 2012, Mr. Lubanga was found guilty of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and actively using them in an armed conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The crimes were committed during 2002 and 2003.

In July of the same year, the trial chamber handed him a 14-year jail sentence. However, … Continue Reading

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