The trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a former Congolese militia leader, commenced on January 26, 2009 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. He is charged with War crimes of enlisting, conscripting, and using child soldiers under the age of 15 in the conflict in the Ituri region of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2002 and 2003.
The beginning of the trial marks a notable step forward for the tribunal, which was created to try large-scale human rights violations. The trial of Mr. Lubanga has taken almost three years to commence since he was first taken to The Hague. Judges halted proceedings last July, citing both legal and strategic errors by the prosecution and stating Mr. Lubanga should be set free because the “prosecution’s handling of evidence amounted to ‘wholesale and serious abuse’ of the process and ruled that fair trial was not possible at that point.” (NYT). The errors have been addressed and the case is now being tried by three judges who are from Britain, Costa Rica, and Bolivia.
This trial will be using a new technique in international law by allowing victims to play a direct role in the trial and be represented by their own lawyers. 93 victims are expected to participate in the Lubanga case.