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Judges Reprimand Prosecutors

Judges reprimanded prosecutors today for an inadequate response to victims’ attorneys, who want charges against defendant Thomas Lubanga expanded to include sexual slavery and cruel treatment.

“The prosecution [response] in present form fails to address issues raised [by the victims’ lawyers],” presiding Judge Adrian Fulford told prosecutors. “It would be helpful to us to have a substantive position set out…given this affects the very charges brought against the accused.”

Dated May 22 and currently only available in French, the filing by the victims’ attorneys asks the judges to consider a “legal re-characterization of facts in the Lubanga case as sexual slavery…and cruel and inhumane treatment.”

Lubanga is charged with recruiting, enlisting, and conscripting child soldiers, but lawyers for the victims contend that the charges should be expanded because many witnesses have testified about seeing or experiencing rape by commanders at the training camps of Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots militia.

Some witnesses have said that the camp commanders regularly beat and killed young trainees, and often withheld food.

The prosecutors responded to the victims’ lawyers in a three-page filing on May 29, where they quoted Regulation 55 of the International Criminal Court, which gives the judges authority to consider “modifying the legal characterization of facts.”

Judge Fulford dismissed the prosecution’s response as “technical” and requested a more complete response to be submitted by June 12. The defense has until June 19 to respond to the prosecution, and the victims’ lawyers must respond to both parties by June 26.

A new witness, who is a former child solder, briefly took the stand at the end of the day and will continue his testimony on Thursday.