Lubanga trial: ICC to thank DRC's Kabila

2012-03-15 15:09

The Hague - The International Criminal Court is planning to meet Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila "to thank him for his commitment and strong support" during the trial of warlord Thomas Lubanga convicted of using child soldiers, the chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on Thursday.

Moreno-Ocampo said the prosecutor's Office was planning to meet president Kabila "shortly" to ratchet up pressure for the arrest of Lubanga's co-accused, fugitive warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who according to rights groups is currently in the eastern DRC.

The meeting will be "to thank president Kabila for his commitment and strong support, but also to request the immediate arrest of Mr Bosco Ntaganda".

"It is time to arrest him."

Moreno-Ocampo also said he would seek "close to the maximum sentence" for Lubanga.

"If we are going to ask one year per child we should go far beyond the maximum of 30 years provided by the Rome Statute," Moreno-Ocampo said a day after Lubanga's conviction.

"We will seek a sentence close to the maximum," the prosecutor told reporters at a press conference at the tribunal's Hague-based headquarters.

The ICC on Wednesday found Lubanga guilty of using child soldiers during a brutal conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It was its first verdict since starting work almost a decade ago and was hailed on Wednesday by the UN and world powers such as the United States.

Rape and murder charges

Lubanga, 51, was convicted, six years after his arrest, of abducting children as young as 11 and forcing them to fight and commit atrocities in a gold-rich region of the country.

The Congolese warlord - thought to be the founder of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and chief commander of its military wing - was sent to The Hague in 2006 and put on trial in early 2009.

Lubanga, who has denied the charges against him, will be sentenced at a date yet to be determined.

He risks 30 years in jail or, if judges decide the crimes are exceptionally grave, life in prison.

The prosecutor would make his submission for sentencing on April 18, Moreno-Ocampo said.

Prosecutors, said Moreno-Ocampo, will now ask judges to add rape and murder charges on a sheet which already indicting Ntaganda for recruiting child soldiers to fight in his rebel army between 2002-03.

"After all the evidence [in the Lubanga case] we found there is enough evidence to present charges of rape and murder against Bosco Ntaganda," Moreno-Ocampo said, adding "We are going to that".


- SAPA

Read more on:    international criminal court  |  joseph kabila  |  thomas lubanga  |  drc  |  central africa  |  war crimes
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