By Susan Kendi
The first warlord ever tried and sentenced
by the International Criminal Court has been set free from a prison in the
Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC).
The 59-year-old Congolese warlord, Thomas
Lubanga Dyilo was dressed in a white ‘agbada’ outfit, an embroidered ‘aboki’
hat and carried a walking stick when he was released from Makala maximum prison
on Sunday 16, 2020 after serving 14 years in prison. He spent 6 years in
detention, 3 years in prison in The Hague and 5 years imprisonment in Kinshasa,
His release was celebrated by his wife and
children, relatives and his die-hard supporters who were singing and dancing as
they took pictures and recorded videos of him. The celebration was then
followed by a mass that was held at the Notre Dame De Fatima parish in Kinshasa
the capital city of the DRC.
Lubanga was the former head of theUnion of Congolese Patriots [UPC] militia and the
commander-in-chief of its military wing, the Forces patriotiques pour la
libération du Congo [FPLC].
He was found guilty by the Trial Chamber I
of the ICC for conscripting and using child
soldiers to participate in hostilities. He was handed a sentence of 14
years in prison. This was the first verdict ever issued by an ICC Trial
Chamber. The verdict and sentence were then confirmed by the Appeal Chamber on
December 1, 2014.
The Judges further
decided that the six years Lubanga had already served in detention in The Hague
since March 2006 would be deducted from the sentence which would in turn expire
on March 15, 2020.
On December 19, 2015,
Thomas Lubanga was transferred to Makala prison in the Democratic Republic of
Congo to serve his sentence.
An ICC arrest warrant was
issued for Lubanga on February 10, 2006.He was arrested and transferred to The
Hague on March 16, 2006.The charges were confirmed by Pre-Trial Chamber I on
January 29, 2007.
The court of last resort confirmed that
there was enough evidence to believe that Lubanga is responsible for the
charges he was facing before the Court.
After Lubanga’s arrest
and transfer to the ICC, his deputy Bosco Ntaganda took over as UPC commander.
Bosco Ntaganda has also
been convicted and handed the longest sentence in the ICC history, 30 years
imprisonment. This decision was made after the Court found him responsible for
committing war crimes and crimes against humanity including conscription of
child soldiers under 15 years of age and committing sexual violence crimes against
civilians and female members of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and its
military wing Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC).This is the
first time that the ICC has sentenced a commander for rape and sexual slavery
offences against members of his own troop.
Before his transfer to
Makala prison in Congo, the Trial Chamber II of the Court found Lubanga
responsible for reparations of USD 10 million. This part of the decision was
approved by the ICC Appeals chamber.