[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] confirmed war crimes charges [press release] Monday against Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga [Trial Watch profile], making Lubanga the first ICC defendant to face trial. As founder of the militant Union of Patriotic Congolese [Global Security backgrounder], Lubanga is accused [indictment, PDF; case materials] of enlisting child soldiers [BBC report] in the Democratic Republic of Congo's violence-plagued Ituri district [HRW backgrounder].
Following a pre-trial hearing [JURIST report] in November, ICC judges deliberated [JURIST report] over whether there was sufficient evidence to proceed against Lubanga. Lubanga has maintained his innocence, claiming that the prosecution has withheld evidence necessary to prepare a full defense. Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo [official profile] said that last year that he is also preparing to submit evidence [JURIST report] to ICC judges in a separate case regarding crimes committed in Darfur [JURIST news archive]. Charges in the Darfur case are expected by February. Reuters has more.