23.02.11 - ICC/LUBANGA - COURT REJECTS DEFENCE REQUEST TO STOP TRIAL

The Hague, February 23, 2011 (FH) - Thomas Lubanga's trial is set to resume before the International Criminal Court (ICC) after judges rejected on Wednesday February 23 a defense application, which sought the dismissal of the case for " abuse of process".
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Defence claimed that the Office of the Prosecutor had used intermediaries to bribe witnesses.

Thomas Lubanga was commander-in-chief of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo. He is charged with war crimes, notably for conscripting child soldiers to further the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during 2002 and 2003.

During the first step of the trial, the Prosecution had called 34 witnesses to the stand. Lubanga's defence claimed that some of them were corrupted, therefore all the prosecution's witnesses should be dismissed.

According to Lubanga's lead counsel Catherine Mabille, "intermediaries allegedly bribed and coached witnesses with the collaboration of the Prosecutor". Last year, the defense called witnesses claiming to have been child soldiers in the Union of Congolese Patriots who talked about the falsification of identity by prosecution witnesses.

However, at a status conference today, Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford stated that the defense's application had been rejected, and then asked them  to call its witnesses beginning March 7.

Catherine Mabille, replied that the defense needed time to discuss the ruling before suggesting when their witnesses would be available. She said the defense was also considering appealing the court's decision.

Thomas Lubanga was arrested and jailed in Kinsha in March 2005. He was then transferred to The Hague on March 17, 2006. His trial started at the ICC on January 26, 2009.

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