International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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

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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

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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

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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

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Lubanga Appeals Hearing Postponed

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have postponed the testimony of two witnesses who were scheduled to give evidence in support of Thomas Lubanga’s appeal against his conviction and 14-year prison sentence.

‘Witness D-0040’ and ‘Witness D-0041’ were expected to testify on April 14 and 15 via video link from an undisclosed location. However, the court’s registry informed judges that it was not possible to organize the logistics necessary for the witnesses to testify on these dates.

On March 14, 2012, Mr. Lubanga was found guilty as a co-perpetrator of recruiting, conscripting, and using child soldiers in the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). The judges found that these children were actively used in an armed conflict during 2002 and … Continue Reading

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Two Witnesses to Testify at Lubanga Appeals Hearing

Thomas Lubanga, the first person convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), will call two witnesses next month to provide additional evidence in support of his appeals against conviction and 14-year jail term.

According to an order issued Friday by the Appeals Chamber, ‘Witness D-0040’ and ‘Witness D-0041’ would testify on April 14 and 15 via video link from an undisclosed location.

In March 2012, Mr. Lubanga was found guilty of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and actively using them in an armed conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The crimes were committed during 2002 and 2003.

In July of the same year, the trial chamber handed him a 14-year jail sentence. However, … Continue Reading

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Prosecutor Denies Withholding Exculpatory Evidence from Lubanga’s Lawyers

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has denied withholding exculpatory information from the defense of Thomas Lubanga, who was convicted in 2012 of using child soldiers.

In a January 31, 2014 filing, Fatou Bensouda asked judges to reject a defense petition to add to Mr. Lubanga’s appeal grounds the prosecution’s alleged disclosure failure.

Last December, defense lawyer Catherine Mabille said although prosecutors had since 2004 possessed the two documents containing the names and photographs of members of Mr. Lubanga’s personal security detail, they only disclosed them to the defense in December 2013.

Mr. Lubanga wants the two documents, together with correspondences between the defense and prosecution relating to their disclosure, to be considered as additional evidence and new grounds in support of his … Continue Reading

Judges Reject Lubanga’s Request For a Hearing to Schedule His Appeal

International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges have rejected a request by Thomas Lubanga to call a status conference to set the schedule for his appeals against conviction and the 14-year jail term handed him by trial judges.

The Congolese political leader, who was convicted last year over the use of child soldiers, had indicated in a July 22, 2013 filing that the appeal process was dragging.

On August 27, 2013, the judges ruled that at this stage, the appeals chamber did not consider it necessary to convene a status conference for the purpose of setting the schedule for the appeals. “Should it be deemed appropriate to hold an oral hearing in these proceedings, the parties and participants will be informed accordingly,” the … Continue Reading

Lubanga Opposes Bid by 32 Victims to Participate in His Appeals

Thomas Lubanga, who was last year sentenced to 14 years in prison by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges over the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, has opposed applications by 32 victims who wished to participate in appeal proceedings.

He said that due to extensive redactions to the victims’ applications, the defense lacked crucial information regarding their admissibility. In addition, there were “significant” inconsistencies in the information provided by the applicants.

Mr. Lubanga, who allegedly led the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) that took part in an armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was convicted on March 4, 2012. Both the prosecution and the defense are appealing against his sentence. Mr. Lubanga is also appealing against the conviction.

According to … Continue Reading