Prosecutor wants to stop Congolese militiaman's release

16th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court on Friday appealed the court's order to free Congolese militia chief Thomas Lubanga after the suspension of his trial, the chief prosecutor said.

"A few minutes ago we appealed," Luis Moreno-Ocampo told journalists in The Hague a day after the court ruled that Lubanga should be freed unless prosecutors mounted an appeal.

Moreno-Ocampo said he had asked for the appeal to have a suspensive effect on the order, which means that Lubanga would not be freed until appeals judges ruled otherwise.

Lubanga, 49, has been on trial since January 2009 accused of using children under the age of 15 to fight for his militia during the five-year civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which ended in 2003.

Last week, the ICC suspended his trial after criticising the chief prosecutor for abusing court processes and ignoring judges' orders.

Moreno-Ocampo had refused to comply with an order from the judges to disclose to Lubanga's defence team the name of an intermediary.

On Thursday, the court ruled that Lubanga's detention was no longer fair given the suspension of the trial.

But the court ruled that Lubanga remain behind bars for at least five days to give the prosecution time to file an appeal -- which it has now done.

Moreno-Ocampo remained adamant Friday that he would not identify the intermediary as long as there were security concerns.

"The prosecution prefers to lose the case rather than to threaten the life of a a person," he said.

"As soon as protection is in place, we provide, disclose the name."

Lubanga surrendered to the ICC in March 2006.

His trial, the ICC's first, was initially to have started in June 2008 but was stalled until the following year when the court ruled that prosecutors had wrongly withheld evidence potentially favourable to his defence.

© 2010 AFP

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