(AFP) – Jul 11, 2008
THE HAGUE (AFP) — Prosecutors urged International Criminal Court judges Friday to lift an indefinite stay on the trial of Congolese militiaman Thomas Lubanga and revoke a decision to release him.
Lubanga's trial, the ICC's first, was to have started last month but was stalled when the court ruled that prosecutors had wrongly withheld evidence favourable to the defence from Lubanga's lawyers.
This "misuse" inhibited Lubanga's ability to prepare a proper defence, it said, putting an indefinite stay on proceedings until the matter was resolved.
The prosecution filed an application informing the trial chamber that the United Nations had agreed to give judges access to previously sealed UN-sourced documents containing potentially exonerating information for the defence.
"The UN has accepted that this should be done by the judges in their chambers," said the office of chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo.
"Should the judges decide that any document needs be disclosed to the defence, the UN has accepted to explore all possibilities to this effect."
The court put an indefinite stay on proceedings until the matter was resolved, after which Lubanga launched a successful bid for his release.
But his freedom was stalled when the prosecution lodged twin appeals against the court's decision to put a stay on proceedings, and its order to release Lubanga.
Moreno-Ocampo's office has previously said it was confident the trial would begin in September.
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 DR Congo.
"We are hopeful that the practical arrangements now proposed ... will enable early review of all the materials by the judges, and will therefore remove obstacles for the trial to proceed," said the prosecutor's office.
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