Follow by Email

Total Pageviews

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First ICC Prosecution Moving Forward

Lubamga, the criminal in this first case, has been awaiting justice since about 2006. Wow; it has only taken five years for the case to come to a point where the defense (if there is any) can say that the evidence is tainted or the witnesses irrelevant. Five years. How much longer before the victims of his crimes see this vile creature in prison? He will nto be put to death or harmed in any way. No, he will serve time in a prison cell. He will eat, sleep, drink, shower, read, and continue to live in a prison cell paid for by other people. Damn! I am so glad the UN is hot on this.
Prosecution says evidence in International Court’s first trial enough to convict Congo warlord
By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, August 25, 10:44 AM
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Prosecutors began wrapping up the International Criminal Court’s landmark first trial on Thursday by urging judges to convict a Congolese warlord of recruiting hundreds of child soldiers and sending them to fight and kill in his country’s brutal conflict.
Deputy Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges that evidence in the trial that began in January 2009 gave voice to children that militia leader Thomas Lubanga had “transformed into killers; those girls that Mr. Lubanga offered to his commanders as sexual slaves.”

( Michael Kooren, Pool / Associated Press ) - Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. Prosecution lawyers are wrapping up the ICC’s landmark first trial by urging judges to convict Lubanga of recruiting child soldiers and sending them to fight in his country’s brutal conflict. Lubanga’s trial was the first international case to focus exclusively on child soldiers.

Bensouda said the armed wing of Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots political party trained hundreds of children in 20 camps scattered across the Ituri region of eastern Congo in 2002-2003.
“They were used to fight in conflicts. They were used to kill, rape and pillage,” she added.

Actress Angelina Jolie, who is a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, was among dozens of people who watched proceedings from the court’s public gallery. She made no comment to reporters.

Lubanga’s defense lawyers are expected to tell judges on Friday that the prosecution evidence was flawed by false witness testimony and that Lubanga in fact tried to liberate child soldiers, not recruit them.
Lubanga’s trial has been hailed as a significant step in the development of international law. It was the first international case to focus exclusively on child soldiers and the opening trial at the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal.

However, it also was overshadowed by delays and by friction between prosecutors and judges.

The trial was put on hold in June 2008 — just 10 days before it was scheduled to start — when judges ruled that Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo had not given lawyers evidence that could have helped Lubanga. He refused to turn over some 200 documents because they came from organizations including the United Nations on condition that they not be disclosed to others.

Judges said the confidentiality agreements meant, “the trial process has been ruptured to such a degree that it is now impossible to piece together the constituent elements of a fair trial.”

Moreno-Ocampo eventually got consent from all the organizations and disclosed the material to defense attorneys, allowing the trial to get under way.

But judges halted it in July 2010 and ordered Lubanga released from custody when prosecutors defied a court order to reveal the identity of an intermediary who had helped prosecutors contact witnesses.

Prosecutors appealed the decision and Lubanga remained in his cell, but the incident underscored simmering tensions between prosecutors and the judges over disclosure of sensitive evidence.

Faced with the prospect of the case collapsing, prosecutors revealed the identity of their intermediary to the defense and appeals judges ruled that the trial could resume.

The tensions resurfaced Thursday when Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford refused to let Moreno-Ocampo answer a question addressed to one of his team of lawyers.

“Mr. Ocampo, can we please have some order,” Fulford said. When Moreno-Ocampo tried again to answer, Fulford sternly told the prosecutor: “Mr. Ocampo, not at the moment.”

Lubanga was arrested in March 2006, the first suspect to come into the custody of the International Criminal Court, which became operational in 2002.

The court has since issued indictments in high profile flashpoints such as the Darfur conflict in Sudan and the Gadhafi regime’s brutal but unsuccessful campaign to stamp out dissent.

Lubanga is accused of leading a rebel group called the Union of Congolese Patriots which used child soldiers in savage fighting in the Ituri province in 2002-2003.

While welcoming his prosecution and the groundbreaking child soldier charges, human rights groups have criticized prosecutors for the narrow scope of the trial, saying they should also have charged him for the numerous rapes that victims say members of his militia perpetrated in a region notorious for widespread sexual violence.

“It was shocking to many of us that the announcement in 2006 of the case against Mr. Lubanga did not include charges for such crimes and overlooked the suffering of thousands of women,” said Brigid Inder, executive director of a group called Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice.

However others applauded the likely deterrent effect of the Lubanga trial.

The U.N. special envoy for children in armed conflicts, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said leaders in conflict zones have often asked her about the ICC and the Lubanga prosecution.

“I found that fear of the ICC a healthy development in international law,” Coomaraswamy told The Associated Press. “Nobody can measure how many children have been saved because of deterrence. That’s not something you can measure, but hopefully that will be the case.”

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

No comments:

Post a Comment