Arusha, 13 November 2007 (FH) - The trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, leader of a Congolese militia notably accused of having recruited children soldiers in Ituri, in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), will begin on 31 March 2008 before the International Criminal Court (ICC), announced an official statement from the ICC.   

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Lubanga was arrested on 17 March 2006. The three charges for war crimes weighing against him were confirmed on 29 January. He led the Union of Congolese Patriots (UCP), a movement primarily composed of Hema soldiers.
The chamber will be presided by Adrian Fulford (United Kingdom), assisted by Elizabeth Odio Benito (Costa Rica) and by René Blattmann (Bolivia). Lubanga will be defended by Catherine Mabille of the Bar of Paris (France), vice president of Lawyers Without Borders. Mabille defended, in 2006 before the ICTR, the former mayor of Gikoro Paul Bisengimana. She will be assisted by Jean-Marie Biju Duval (France); the counsel at the ICTR for Ferdinand Nahimana, whose judgment in appeal will be delivered next week. The prosecution will be led by Luis Moreno Ocampo (Argentina) and assisted by Fatou Benssouda (Gambia)
The ICC, which exists since 2002, is presided by the Canadian Judge Philippe Kirsch; it employs approximately 650 people, including 18 judges, and had, in 2007, a budget of 89 million euros. Lubanga will be its first accused to be tried. The ICC has other on going investigations in Uganda, Sudan and in the Central African Republic.
A second accused from the DRC was recently transferred to The Hague. Germain Katanga is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His movement, the Forces for the Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI) is primarily composed of Lendus opposed to Hemas.

© Hirondelle News Agency