ICC prosecutors appeal order releasing Congo militia leader Lubanga

[JURIST] The prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Friday appealed [text, PDF] an order to release accused Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo [JURIST news archive]. The order was issued [press release; JURIST report] on Thursday after the court determined that Lubanga could not be detained for an indeterminate period of time pending resumption of his trial. The court had previously ordered a stay [JURIST report] in the proceedings until the prosecution complied with an order to provide certain information to the defense. In the appeal, the prosecutor focused on the unlikelihood that Lubanga could be located and re-detained upon resumption of the trial:

Throughout these proceedings, the accused has been detained on the basis of repeated findings that his detention is necessary to ensure his appearance at trial, and that there exists "the real possibility that the Court is likely to be unable to ensure the Accused's presence at trial if he is released" - a finding referred to by this Chamber in an earlier appeal on realease [sic]. In its Decision on Release, the Chamber did not purport to conclude that the risk of flight has abated or indeed address risk of flight at all. Thus, the previous findings regarding the possibility of flight are undisputed and undiminished.
The prosecutor indicated that an appeal of the order staying the proceedings is forthcoming.

Lubanga is accused of war crimes for allegedly recruiting child soldiers to fight in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 2002-2003. His trial began in January 2009 but was halted soon after when one of the child witnesses recanted his testimony [JURIST report] that Lubanga had recruited him for the militia. The prosecution concluded its case [JURIST report] last July after presenting 22 weeks of testimony. Lubanga maintains he is innocent [JURIST report] of the charges against him. He became the first war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC, formed in 2002, after he was taken into custody [JURIST report] in March 2006.

 

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