The Hague, March 14, 2012 (FH) - The International Criminal Court on Wednesday pronounced Congolese former militia leader Thomas Lubanga guilty of conscripting and using child soldiers to fight in Ituri (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo) from September 1, 2002 to August 13, 2003. Lubanga now faces sentencing for war crimes in a separate hearing yet to be announced.  

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Handing down its first ever verdict, the court unanimously found that Lubanga had participated in a "common plan to build an army" and control Ituri politically and militarily. This plan, concluded the three judges, led to the conscription of children under 15 into the troops of the Union des patriotes congolais(UPC) and its armed wing the Forces Patriotiques de libération du Congo (FPLC). Lubanga was president of the UPC at the time.

The court found that others including Floribert Kisambo, Bosco Ntaganda and several tribal leaders also played a role in this plan, but that Lubanga was their superior.

The three judges found that Lubanga had participated in the planning of military operations and had played a key role in logistics to supply the FPLC troops. They found that he had also participated actively in the recruitment campaign, including making speeches to local populations. He used child soldiers as military guards, the court said.

Lubanga, dressed in white flowing robes, looked visibly shaken as the decision was read out.

Lubanga was jailed in Kinshasa in 2005 and transferred to the ICC in The Hague in March 2006. His trial began on January 26, 2009. The judges had been deliberating since the end of August 2011.


© Hirondelle News Agency