THE HAGUE, Jul 10 – The International Criminal Court sentenced Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in jail Tuesday for using child soldiers in his rebel army, in the tribunal’s first sentencing since it was created.
The court has opened probes in seven countries, all of them on the African continent, since it came into being in 2003.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
The former militia commander Lubanga was convicted on March 14 of war crimes, specifically for using child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-03.
Lubanga’s co-accused, rebel leader Jean Bosco Ntaganda, is also the object of an ICC arrest warrant since 2006. Ntaganda, dubbed the “Terminator”, is currently running the M23 group of mutineers fighting in the east.
Militia commanders Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, accused of crimes against humanity and warcrimes, have been on trial at the ICC since November 2009 for attacking a village in 2003.
And the court on June 14 filed a fresh application to seek an arrest warrant for an alleged Rwandan warlord Sylvestre Mudacumura, after a first request was turned down in May for crimes committed in the eastern DRC.
Four Kenyans, including two potential presidential candidates, will be tried in April, 2013 on charges of fomenting deadly post-poll violence in 2007-08, that killed at least 1,100 people and displaced more than 600,000.
Former president Laurent Gbagbo, who was transferred to the ICC prison in The Hague in November 2011, currently faces four counts of crimes against humanity over months of deadly fighting after the November 2010 presidential poll.
Violence broke out when Gbagbo refused to step down in favour of his long-time rival and current President Alassane Ouattara, who was declared the election winner.
The ICC has set a hearing to confirm charges against Gbagbo for August 13.
Arrested on November 19, 2011 in Libya, Seif al-Islam, son of Moamer Kadhafi, has been the object of an ICC arrest warrant for crimes against humanity for his role in the repression of the popular uprising which led to the fall of his father. Libya and the ICC are at odds over who should put him on trial.
Six people, including President Omar al-Beshir who is wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, are on the ICC’s wanted list as part of a probe into the conflict in the western region of Darfur. The region has been wracked since 2003 by a civil war in which 300,000 died according to the UN.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The DR Congo’s former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, whose rebel army is accused of atrocities in the Central African Republic, has been detained by the ICC since 2008.
Bemba faces three war crimes counts and two of crimes against humanity for murder, rape and pillage committed by some 1,500 members of his private army in the neighbouring CAR between October 2002 and March 2003, where it had come to back the troops of Ange-Felix Patasse, facing a rebellion.
In 2005, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and other commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for crimes against humanity and warcrimes, including the enrollement of child soldiers and sex slavery committed between 2002 and 2004.