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International Criminal Court Set to Issue First Sentence

  • VOA News

Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, center, awaits his verdict in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, March 14, 2012.

Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, center, awaits his verdict in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, March 14, 2012.

The International Criminal Court is set to hand down its first sentence Tuesday, in the case of convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga.

Lubanga was found guilty of war crimes in March for recruiting and using child soldiers during fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002 and 2003.

Human Rights Watch said Monday said Lubanga's sentence is important not only to his victims, "but also as a warning to those who use child soldiers around the world."

The Lubanga conviction was the ICC's first verdict since it was established a decade ago.

Court prosecutors are seeking a sentence "close to the maximum" for Lubanga, which could range from 30 years to life in prison.

A panel of judges ruled unanimously that Lubanga recruited children under 15 years old to fight for the armed wing of his group, the Union of Congolese Patriots.

He has been in the ICC's custody at The Hague since March of 2006.

The international court is seeking the arrest of another Congolese militia leader, Bosco Ntaganda, who it says was the number-three leader in Lubanga's militia. Soldiers loyal to Ntaganda left the Congolese army earlier this year and began an ongoing mutiny in the east, near the Ugandan border.

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