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Judges Order Hearing on Lubanga’s Appeal Against US$10 Million Reparations Award

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have scheduled a hearing to receive oral submissions in the appeal against the amount of reparations for which Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga is liable. Lubanga, who was the first person convicted by the court, is appealing the US$ 10 million reparations award issued against him last December, terming the amount excessive and contesting the eligibility of several victims set to receive reparations.

The hearing scheduled for October 17, 2018, was called following appeals by Lubanga and lawyers representing victims. Judges have also requested observations from the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), which was established under the Rome Statute in 2002 to implement court-ordered reparations and to provide physical and psychosocial rehabilitation or material support to victims of crimes that fall within the court’s jurisdiction.

Judge Piotr Hofmański, who is presiding over the appeals, cited Rule 103 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, which provides that at any stage of the proceedings, judges may, if they consider it desirable for the proper determination of the case, invite or grant leave to a state, organization, or person to submit, in writing or orally, any observation on any issue that they deem appropriate.

“Having regard to the issues raised on appeal and the mandate of the Trust Fund for Victims, the Appeals Chamber finds it desirable for the proper determination of these appeals to invite the Trust Fund for Victims to submit observations,” said the judge. The Fund will submit written observations by October 11. The defense and victims’ lawyers will respond in writing and orally during the upcoming hearing.

Last December, judges set the amount of Lubanga’s financial liability for reparations to victims of his crimes at US$ 10 million. They noted that the scope of a convicted person’s liability is proportionate to the harm caused and, among other things, their participation in the commission of the crimes for which they were found guilty.

The judges assessed the harm suffered by 427 persons recognized as Lubanga’s victims at US$ 3.4 million. Additionally, taking into account the proportion to the harm caused and Lubanga’s participation in the commission of the crimes, judges assessed his liability at US$ 6.6 million.

Lubanga appealed, with his lawyer Catherine Mabille contending that judges erred in their assessment of “the scope and extent of any damage, loss, and injury to victims.” She said judges wrongfully ordered Lubanga to pay US$ 6.6 million in reparations for the harm suffered by unidentified victims “who may be identified during the implementation of reparations.”

According to her, in their assessment judges erroneously included several ineligible victims, including “hundreds, if not thousands” of unidentified individuals who had not applied to the court for reparations. The defense also said the US$ 10 million award does not reflect Lubanga’s criminal responsibility and that it was erroneous for the award to exceed the US$ 6 million which victims’ lawyers asked for.

Victims’ lawyers also appealed the reparations decision, arguing that judges excluded “a significant number” of victims who participated in the proceedings against Lubanga and whom the TFV had already designated as eligible for reparations.