Congolese warlord appeals

Thomas Lubanga

The International Criminal Court’s first convict, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, on Wednesday appealed his 14-year sentence for using children in his rebel army, his lawyers said.

Former militia commander Lubanga, 51, was sentenced in July for his part in a war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where aid groups say 60,000 people have been killed in conflicts since 1999.

“The defence gives notice of appeal and asks for an acquittal,” Lubanga’s lawyers said in a document filed with The Hague-based court.

He was convicted in March of war crimes in the central African country, specifically for enlisting and using child soldiers in 2002-03, in what was the ICC’s first verdict since starting work a decade ago.

Lubanga, who has been detained in The Hague since 2006, is the founder of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and commander of its military wing the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).

He has pleaded not guilty to two counts of war crimes.

The ICC, the world’s only independent permanent tribunal to try genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity has issued four arrest warrants for crimes in DR Congo since starting work in 2003.

Two militia leaders, Germain Katanga, 34 and Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, 41, who fought against Lubanga, are currently facing trial on similar charges.

Former UPC leader Bosco Ntaganda, a Lubanga ally, is yet to be arrested to face the ICC on war crimes charges.

The ICC is investigating seven cases, all based in Africa. – AFP