Following its decision imposing a stay on the proceedings of the case The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Trial Chamber I ordered today the release of the accused.
However, since an appeal may be filed within five days, the order granting release shall not be enforced until the expiry of the five day time-limit. Furthermore, if an appeal is filed and a request is made in the appeal for suspensive effect, the accused shall not leave detention until the Appeals Chamber has resolved whether or not the effect of the order granting release is to be suspended.
The Chamber also noted that an order releasing the accused shall only be put into effect after arrangements have been made for his transfer to a State that is obliged to receive him. According to the judges, the release is the "logical consequence" of the stay on the proceedings imposed on 13 June 2008, as it is at present impossible to secure a fair trial for the accused. No finding was made so far as to his guilt or innocence.
In a separate, earlier, decision the Trial Chamber granted leave to appeal the stay – the 'Decision on the consequences of non-disclosure of exculpatory materials covered by Article 54(3)(e) agreements and the application to stay the prosecution of the accused' - as requested by the Prosecutor.
On 17 March 2006, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the founder and leader of the Union des patriotes congolais (Union of Congolese Patriots) was arrested and surrendered to the Court upon a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I at the request of the Prosecutor.
On 29 January 2007, Pre-Trial Chamber I confirmed the charges brought by the Prosecutor against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, namely war crimes consisting of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the FPLC, the military wing of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC), and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri, from September 2002 to 13 August 2003.
The judges, responsible for the conduct of a fair trial, had imposed on 13 June 2008 a stay on the proceedings in the Lubanga case, in order to ensure that the rights of each party are respected.
The Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is the first case to arise from the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); the second case is The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga & Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, and the third case is The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda. Investigations are ongoing in the DRC.