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First war crime trail at Hague

world Updated: Jan 26, 2009 23:41 IST

The first-ever trial of the International Criminal Court started in The Hague on Monday with Congolese militiaman Thomas Lubanga accused of war crimes for using child soldiers.

“At this stage our client would like to plead not guilty” said Catherine Mabille, Lubanga's lawyer.

Lubanga, 48, is accused of recruiting hundreds of children under the age of 15 to fight in the armed wing of his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo between September 2002 and August 2003.

Humanitarian groups say inter-ethnic violence involving militia groups in the DR Congo's eastern Ituri region — centred on control over one of the world's most lucrative gold-mining territories — has claimed some 60,000 lives since 1999.