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Ocampo victory in Congo warlord case

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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Congolese militia boss Thomas Lubanga on Wednesday became the first person to be convicted by the International Criminal Court after he was found guilty of war crimes for using children in his rebel army.It is the first conviction in the ICC’s 10-year history.It is the first conviction in the ICC’s 10-year history.Four Kenyans — Deputy Prime minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Eldoret North MP William Ruto, Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura and radio presenter Joshua Sang — are awaiting trial at the same court.Lubanga, who has been in custody for six years, now faces the prospect of life in prison, if the judges decide that his crimes were so severe as to warrant the maximum penalty.Alternatively, the judges could hand him the lesser penalty, up to 30 years imprisonment, if his actions are not deemed to have been of extreme gravity.The ICC system, unlike, say Kenya’s legal system, allows such variations in sentencing. Lubanga also faces the prospect of financial ruin as the court will make another ruling on compensating victims of his crimes.Considered a wealthy man whose militia controlled land, timber and mineral resources, Lubanga’s property in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo was traced by the ICC.The ICC has powers to force suspects to pay either individual or groups of victims compensation.The compensation can be in the form of direct payments, construction of community facilities such as a hospital or place of worship.Perpetrators of crimes can also be made to apologise to victims during direct meetings.Lubanga, 51, was found guilty of enlisting child soldiers to fight for his militia in a gold-rich region during the bloody four-year war in the Democratic Republic of Congo which ended in 2003.