Prosecutors at the war crimes trial of a Congolese militia leader claim he trained child soldiers to kill, pillage and rape.
Thomas Lubanga, leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, is accused of conscripting children under 15 to kill ethnic Lendus in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s war between 1998 and 2003. He has denied the charges. It is the first trial to take place at the world’s first permanent war crimes tribunal, the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Previous war crimes cases, like those arising from the Balkans wars, have been dealt with in specially arranged UN hearings. More than 30,000 children are believed to have fought in the DRC conflict. Prosecutors say they were regularly beaten and given drugs and that many died in combat. Survivors still suffer the consequences of the trauma they endured, it is claimed.