International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Lubanga Sentence Review Postponed to August

The hearing to determine whether Thomas Lubanga’s 14-year prison sentence can be reduced will not be conducted tomorrow as had earlier been scheduled. It will instead be held on Friday, August 21, at 9:30 AM local time in The Hague.

According to a July 8 rescheduling order, the postponement is to allow the presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider an application by defense lawyers for the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from the Appeals Chamber handling the review. A plenary session of judges was scheduled to convene today to consider the defense application,

As of tomorrow, Mr. Lubanga will have served two-thirds of the prison sentence handed him in March 2012.  At the time of sentencing, he … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Lawyers Want Presiding Judge Off Lubanga Sentence Review

Thomas Lubanga’s lawyers have sought the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from presiding over the upcoming review of the prison sentence imposed on Mr. Lubanga by the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to “circumstances which manifestly cast doubt on her impartiality.” However, the prosecution requests that the defense application be dismissed because “a reasonable and well-informed observer” would not apprehend bias by the judge.

In a June 29, 2015 application to the court’s Presidency, defense lawyer Catherine Mabille stated that Judge Fernández was the Chef de Cabinet to former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo during the period between the application for a warrant of arrest against Mr. Lubanga and the confirmation of charges hearing. At the time, the judge was … Continue Reading

1 Comment

ICC Appeals Chamber Issues Its First Judgment on Reparations

On March 3, 2015, the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever judgment on reparations. Trial Chamber I had issued its decision establishing the principles and procedures to be applied to reparations in the case against Thomas Lubanga in August 2012. Both the defense and the victims had appealed the trial chamber decision.

In March 2012, Lubanga became to first person to be convicted by the ICC for the enlistment, conscription, and use of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years to participate actively in hostilities. The crimes occurred in 2002 and 2003 in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lubanga was sentenced to a total of 14 years of imprisonment, and both his conviction and … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment