DR Congo’s Thomas Lubanga released after 14 years in prison

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Congolese Thomas Lubanga, the first man to be sentenced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was released on Sunday.

In March 2012, the ICC found Lubanga guilty of war crimes involving the recruitment and conscription of child soldiers and actively involving them in hostilities.

Lubanga, president and one of the founding members of the armed group Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), now a political party, left Makala Prison accompanied by his relatives and activists, according to local media.

The former warlord was on July 10, 2012 sentenced to a total of 14 years.
The verdict and sentence were upheld by the Appeals Chamber on Dec. 1, 2014.

He was transferred to Kinshasa in December 2015 to serve his prison sentence.

In its guilty verdict in March 2012, the ICC Trial Chamber I concluded that between Sep.1 2002 and 13 Aug. 13, 2003, the armed wing of the UPC/FPLC carried out widespread recruitment of young people, including children under the age of 15, in both forced and “voluntary” manners.

Multiple witnesses reported that children under the age of 15 were recruited “voluntarily” or by force within the UPC/FPLC, and then sent either to its headquarters in Bunia or to military training camps in Rwampara, Mandro and Mongbwalu, among others.

Video evidence clearly showed that recruits under the age of 15 were at the Rwampara camp. The evidence showed that in military camps, children were in very harsh training regimes and subjected to various severe punishments. Agencies

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