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Congo Militia Leader Faces First ICC Trial In March


The International Criminal Court has set a March trial date for Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga, the first person to face trial at the world court.

The court says Lubanga's trial will start on March 31 of next year. The court also told prosecutors to make available to defense lawyers all the evidence they plan to use against Lubanga by December 14.

Lubanga is accused of recruiting and using thousands of child soldiers to fight for the armed wing of his party - The Union of Congolese Patriots - during the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war.

Lubanga's lawyers have disputed the charges, saying he worked to end the war.

Lubanga is the first person to be charged at any international court for the alleged use of child soldiers.

Some estimates suggest child soldiers made up 40 percent of all armed forces in the Congolese civil war. The conflict involved six other countries, and led to the deaths of some four million people.

The International Criminal Court is also in the early stages of prosecuting Germain Katanga, another Congolese military leader accused of crimes against humanity during the country's civil war.

In addition, the court has indicted two people for war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region and four leaders of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army. The court's prosecutor is also investigating crimes in the Central African Republic.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

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