(AFP) – Jul 3, 2008
THE HAGUE (AFP) — Obstacles hampering the start of the war crimes trial of Congolese militiaman Thomas Lubanga have been resolved, the president and prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said Thursday.
"The obstacles have been lifted," chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told journalists on the sidelines of a ceremony in The Hague to mark the 10th anniversary of the Rome Treaty that led to the court's creation.
Lubanga's trial would be the ICC's first.
Court president Philippe Kirsch said the main point of contention, over the prosecution's alleged abuse of a confidentiality allowances, should be resolved "shortly".
On June 13, judges imposed an indefinite stay on proceedings, due to have started last Monday, after finding that prosecutors had wrongly withheld evidence, notably from the United Nations, from Lubanga's lawyers.
This "misuse" inhibited Lubanga's ability to prepare a proper defence, they said.
Lubanga subsequently applied for release, and on Wednesday the ICC ordered him to be freed from detention. But the prosecution lodged an immediate appeal that suspended Lubanga's release.
"The UN has sent a letter authorising the other parties to have access to the documents," Moreno-Ocampo said Thursday, reiterating that he was confident the trial would kick off by autumn.
Lubanga, 47, is accused of abducting minors under 15 and using child soldiers in attacks by the armed wing of his Union of Congolese Patriots between September 2002 and August 2003 in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.
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