Wednesday, July 2, 2008

ICC: Trial Chamber Orders Lubanga Released

Today, a Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court ordered the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first person arrested and transferred to the Court. (Decision here; press release here.) The Trial Chamber had previously determined (on June 13th) that the Prosecutor had not disclosed potentially exculpatory evidence to the accused, as required by the Court's Statute. Apparently, even following that decision, the Prosecutor and the Court were not able to agree on a satisfactory mechanism for judicial review of the contested evidence. That led to today's decision, in which the Chamber concluded: "[T]he Chamber's Decision [of June 13th] stayed the proceedings sine die because of the present impossibility of trying the accused fairly. It follows that the detention of the accused cannot be justified in order to ensure his appearance at trial or to safeguard the investigation, because the trial (which was the result of the investigation) has been stayed. Furthermore, in the absence of the prospect of a trial, the accused cannot be held in custody or subjected to provisional release as purely preventative measures to deter him from committing further crimes." In addition to its decision to order Lubanga's release, the Trial Chamber today also granted the Prosecutor leave to appeal its June 13th decision. (Decision on leave to appeal here.) The Trial Chamber stayed its release order pending that appeal.