Arusha, November 22, 2014 (FH) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) will hand down its appeals judgment on December 1 on former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga, whom the trial court sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for war crimes.

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On March 14, 2012 Lubanga, the first person tried by the ICC, was found guilty of conscripting children into his forces and using them to fight between September 1, 2002 and August 13, in the north eastern Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The sentence was pronounced on July 10, 2012.

Lubanga appealed both the judgment and sentence.

During appeals hearings last May, the former militia leader said he found his conviction “incomprehensible”. He denied enrolling children into the armed wing of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), which he headed.

In support of this claim, he called two witnesses who were heard by the Chamber before the final arguments of the two parties.

The two witnesses, both former security guards of Lubanga, said they were 18 and 19 respectively when they were recruited.

But the Prosecutor said their testimonies were unreliable and insufficient to undermine the conclusions of the trial court.

Lubanga, who was first imprisoned in Kinshasa, was transferred to the ICC in The Hague in March 2006.