Congo Warlord First to Be Convicted by World Court

Lubanga guilty of recruiting child soldiers
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2012 2:33 AM CDT
A young combatant with the rebel Union for Congolese Patriots stands guard during a rally in the northeastern Congolese town of Bunia, Congo, 2003.   (AP Photo/Rodrique Ngowi, File)
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(Newser) – The world's first permanent war crimes tribunal has recorded its first verdict, finding Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty of recruiting child soldiers as young as 11 and sending them into battle. The International Criminal Court will sentence Lubanga, who led a militia during an ethnic conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo early last decade, at a later date, the BBC reports. He is expected to be sentenced to up to 30 years behind bars.

Lubanga's case was the first to be heard by the Hague court, which has issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, among others. In the eastern Congo, supporters of Lubanga's Union of Congolese Patriots complained that the distant court didn't understand the war, the Guardian reports. "What we want is for people to understand the conflict that happened here," the party's leader says. "When a horde of people attacks you, your family, your friends, is it then wrong to defend yourself? There were massacres here, beheadings. How do you react to that?"

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