[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 15:57 GMT
DR Congo rebel faces Hague trial
Thomas Lubanga at a UPC rally in Bunia (file picture, 2003)
Thomas Lubanga's UPC has been battling for control of Ituri's gold
The leader of a Democratic Republic of Congo militia has been handed over to the International Criminal Court to face trial on war crimes charges.

Thomas Lubanga becomes the first person arrested on an ICC warrant.

The court, based in the Dutch city of The Hague, said he would face three charges related to the use of children in armed groups.

Mr Lubanga was arrested a year ago after nine Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers were killed in the volatile Ituri area.

The ICC was set up to deal with war crimes and genocide around the world.


Congolese Justice Minister Kisimba Ngoy said Mr Lubanga had been handed over to ICC officials in the capital, Kinshasa, and put on a plane on Friday morning.

Christian Palme, of the ICC Prosecutor's Office, confirmed to the BBC News website that Mr Lubanga was on his way to The Hague.

Enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed groups
Conscripting children under the age of 15 into armed groups
Using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities
The French foreign ministry said the French military had helped with his transfer, without giving any details.

French peacekeepers are in Ituri as part of the first European Union peacekeeping force.

Mr Lubanga is accused of having ordered the killing of the peacekeepers in February 2005 and of being behind continuous insecurity in the area.

Several teams of ICC investigators have been sent to Ituri in recent months where more than 50,000 people have died since the inter-ethnic war began in 1999.

Thomas Lubanga's ethnic Hema Union of Congolese Patriots has been battling their Lendu rivals, partly for control of Ituri's large deposits of gold.

Some 17,000 UN peacekeepers are in DR Congo, tasked with ensuring that elections planned for June go smoothly.

They have been backing up the Congolese army as it conducts raids against the numerous rebel groups based in the east.

The ICC issued its first arrest warrants for the leaders of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army but they remain at large.

It is also investigating alleged war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region.

The court is strongly opposed by the United States, which fears its troops could face political prosecutions.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific