Posted by: APO | 16 June 2008

DRC / Trial Chamber imposes a stay on the proceedings of the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

DRC / Trial Chamber imposes a stay on the proceedings of the case against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

LA HAGUE, Pays-Bas, June 16, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — On 13 June 2008, Trial Chamber I imposed a stay on the proceedings of the case The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. Unless this stay is lifted the trial process in all respects will remain at a halt. In these circumstances, the Chamber scheduled a hearing on Tuesday 24 June 2008 at 14.00 in order to consider the release of the accused.

 Trial Chamber I delivered its “Decision on the consequences of non-disclosure of exculpatory materials covered by Article 54(3)(e) agreements and the application to stay the prosecution of the accused, together with certain other issues raised at the Status Conference on 10 June 2008“, following the Chamber’s oral announcement on 11 June 2008 that the trial would not commence on 23 June 2008.

 
 

The Chamber came to the conclusion that the prosecution had incorrectly used Article 54 (3) (e) of the Rome Statute which allows the Prosecutor, exceptionally, to receive information or documents, on the condition of confidentiality, which are not for use at trial but solely for the purpose of generating new evidence. The Chamber concluded that this misuse has had the consequence that a significant body of exculpatory evidence has not been disclosed to the accused, thereby improperly inhibiting the opportunities for the accused to prepare his defence.

 
 

In this case over 200 documents, which the prosecution accepts have potential exculpatory effect or which are material to defence preparation, were obtained from information providers, such as the United Nations, with agreements not to be disclosed. 

 
 

The judges concluded that the disclosure of exculpatory evidence in the possession of the prosecution is a fundamental aspect of the accused’s right to a fair trial.

 
 

Background information

On 17 March 2006, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the founder and leader of the Union des patriotes congolais (Union of Congolese Patriots) was arrested and surrendered to the Court upon a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I at the request of the Prosecutor.

On 29 January 2007, Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed the charges brought by the Prosecutor against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, namely war crimes consisting of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the FPLC, the military wing of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri, from September 2002 to 13 August 2003.  

The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is the first case to arise from the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); the second case is The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga & Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, and the third case is The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda. Investigations are ongoing in the DRC.  

SOURCE : International Criminal Court (ICC)


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