ICC convicts Congolese warlord
THE HAGUE - Agence-France Presse
This file photo shows Lubanga, during a rally by the rebel group in Congo.The International Criminal Court yesterday convicted Congolese militia chief Thomas Lubanga of war crimes for conscripting children into his rebel army, the tribunal’s first ever verdict.
Lubanga, 51, was found guilty in The Hague of enlisting child soldiers as young as 11 to fight during a bloody four-year war in a gold-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Rights groups hailed the verdict, saying it sent a strong message to other warlords still using young children in their armies -- including fugitive Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony. “The chamber reached its decision unanimously that the prosecution has proved Thomas Lubanga guilty of crimes of conscription and enlisting children under the age of 15 and used them to participate in hostilities,” presiding Judge Adrian Fulford said at the ICC, set up in 2002.
“The evidence demonstrated that children endured harsh training regiments and were subjected to severe punishment,” judge Fulford told a packed public gallery, which included Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie. Lubanga will be sentenced at a later stage, the court said. He faces up to 30 years in jail or, if judges decide the crimes were exceptionally grave, life in prison.