Appeals judges ruled this week that charges of sexual slavery and cruel treatment do not have the possibility of being added to the case against Thomas Lubanga.
The appeals judgment came after several months of deliberations, during which time the trial has been stalled. The proceedings began last January 26 and the prosecution rested its case on July 14.
On Tuesday in open court, presiding Judge Sang-Hyun Song announced that the appeals chamber had decided to reverse the July 14 decision regarding the possible addition of new charges. Both the prosecution and defense had appealed against it.
In the controversial July decision, trial judges said it was possible to “reclassify” the charges against Lubanga to include sexual slavery and cruel and inhumane treatment. They later clarified that these charges had to be based on existing evidence or on facts that emerged during the trial.
Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford dissented from the majority opinion.
“In my view, the proposals advanced by the victims do not raise the possibility that the legal characterization of the facts may change. Instead, the victims seek to add five additional charges,” he wrote.
The contentious debate over adding new charges began in May, when victims’ lawyers argued that young girl recruits in Lubanga’s militia were used as sex slaves, and that sending children into combat constitutes cruel and inhumane treatment. Therefore, the lawyers argued, the existing charges should be “reclassified” to include sexual slavery and cruel and inhumane treatment.
Lubanga, the former president of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) currently faces charges of recruiting, conscripting and using child soldiers to fight in the inter-ethnic conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, during 2002 and 2003.