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Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo has been found guilty of war crimes at the International Criminal Court. It is the Hague tribunal’s first ruling since it was set up a decade ago.

The 51-year-old defendant was accused of recruiting and deploying child soldiers during a conflict that erupted in the late 1990s and ended in 2003. Lubanga, who denies the charges, will be sentenced at a later date. He has 30 days to appeal.

Tens of thousands of people died in the fighting that raged across several countries in central Africa. The use of child soldiers younger than 15 was a particularly tragic aspect of the war.

The conviction could lend momentum to other prominent cases, including that against former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo.

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