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International Criminal Court Holds First War Crimes Suspect Hearing


The leader of a Congolese militia has become the first war crimes suspect to appear before the International Criminal Court.

Thomas Lubanga confirmed his identity during a brief appearance Monday and waived his right to hear a readout of his arrest warrant.

The presiding judge, Claude Jorda, said formal charges against Lubanga will be presented at the next hearing June 27.

Lubanga headed an armed group (the Union of Congolese Patriots) that rampaged through the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri region. He is accused of forcing children under the age of 15 into combat.

He became the court's first detainee last Friday, when he was flown from the D.R.C. to The Hague.

The International Criminal court was set up in 2002 as the world's first permanent and independent war crimes tribunal.

The I.C.C. issued its first arrest warrants last year for five leaders of the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The court has also begun a probe into alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

The United States opposes the court, saying it could be used for politically-motivated cases against American troops and citizens.

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