On Tuesday, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court lifted its stay of proceedings in the case of The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. Lubanga, the founder and leader of the Union de patriots congolais (UPC), is accused of conscripting and enlisting child soldiers to participate in UPC hostilities in Ituri from September 2002 to August 2003.
Trial Chamber I initially imposed its stay of proceedings due to prosecutorial error. The Chamber held that the prosecution had misapplied article 54 (3) (e) of the Rome Statute to withhold exculpatory evidence from the accused. The evidence included documents from the United Nations and various NGOs, but had been obtained under conditions of confidentiality.
As a result of this prosecutorial error, the Chamber imposed a stay of proceedings in June 2008. In early July, Lubanga was released on the grounds that it would be impossible for him to enjoy a fair trial. Nevertheless, Lubanga remained in the custody of the ICC awaiting the decision of the Appeals Court on the misapplication of article 54 (3) (e). On October 21, 2008 the Appeals Chamber reversed Trial Chamber I’s decision to release Lubanga and remanded the matter to the Trial Chamber. The Trial Chamber, in response, has lifted the stay of proceedings and scheduled the commencement of the trial for January 26, 2009. The Chamber explained that the reasons for the stay “have fallen away.”