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 region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2002 and 2003. Mr. Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, but he was only expected to serve eight years because, at the time of sentencing, he had been in the court’s custody for about six years.
Both the prosecution and the defense appealed against his sentence. Mr. Lubanga also appealed against the conviction. On January 13, 2013, appeals judges determined that non-disclosure by the prosecution of material potentially relevant to the finding of the use of children under the age of 15 years within the UPC presidential guard sought “to call into question the reliability of a considerable part of the findings upon which Mr. Lubanga’s conviction was based.”
During the appeals hearing last May, Mr. Lubanga’s defense lawyers called two former bodyguards to Mr. Lubanga who testified that they were 18 and 19 years respectively when they joined the UPC.
In its own appeal, the prosecution asked judges to hand Mr. Lubanga a longer prison sentence. Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda considered the 14 year sentence to be “manifestly inadequate and disproportionate to the gravity of the crime.” She argued that this sentence failed to give sufficient weight to the gravity of the crimes against children and the extent of the damage caused to victims and their families.