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International Criminal Court suspends release of Congolese rebel leader

8 July 2008 – The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has suspended the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a Congolese rebel militia leader accused of recruiting child soldiers.

Last week, the ICC’s Trial Chamber ordered Mr. Lubanga’s release after ruling that he could not receive a fair trial, with no judgment made regarding his guilt or innocence.

Proceedings against him were suspended on 16 June, after the Trial Chamber found that prosecutors had failed to disclose more than 200 documents to the defence that have the potential to prove his innocence.

According to the judges, the release was the “logical consequence” of the stay on the proceedings, “as it is at present impossible to secure a fair trial for the accused.”

Mr. Lubanga will remain under custody until the Court rules on the Prosecution’s appeal.

The founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), he has been charged with a series of war crimes, including conscripting and enlisting child soldiers into the military wing of his group and then using them to participate in hostilities between September 2002 and August 2003.

Mr. Lubanga’s trial was due to have been the first to be held by the ICC.

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