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Lubanga Trial: March and April in Review

CSR Director of Research Projects Kate Davey reports on the Thomas Lubanga trial for the months of March and April.

On March 3…

Today the trial of Thomas Lubanga resumed with the testimony of a witness that took place mostly in closed session. The trial had been delayed  two weeks during which time defense lawyers travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo for research.

On Thursday, the prosecution asked the witness to identify men in a photograph, who the witness identified as Thomas Lubanga, Bosco Ntaganda and Floribert Kisembo.

On Friday, March 5, court was adjourned after the prosecution requested and was granted more time to prepare for Court after the prosecution said the defense had not disclosed that a new witness had been a member of the Union of Congolese Patriots.

On March 8…

The eighth defense witness testified although he had never been a child soldier, that he was paid by third parties to the ICC to lie to ICC officials and claim he had been.

The unidentified witness told the court, “The lie that we had to plan was to say that he [Mr. Lubanga] had enrolled children in the army and that I myself was amongst those children and that I had seen those children. Furthermore that there had been young girls.”

The next day, the witness continued his testimony telling the court a third party to the ICC – an intermediary the witness called Mr. X – falsified a letter purportedly to an ICC investigator stating that the family of the aforementioned witness was threatened by Lubanga’s men due to the witness’s involvement with the court. He further stated that Mr. X paid him money for lying about being a child soldier.

On March 10, during cross-examination, prosecutor Manoj Sachdeva stated, “You have lied to the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) for the last four years. You cannot be believed now,” and despite being interviewed several times, “not once did you tell the OTP that you had lied to them.”  The witness denied he had lied.

The following day, Judge Adrian Fulford announced ‘Witness 15’ who testified for the prosecution in June and later stating he had lied to prosecutors, will appear in court later next week. The prosecution will now view this witness as hostile. In addition, Dieu Merci Patient Nobirabo Todabo, 21, a witness for the defense, testified that when the war broke out that both he and his friend left Bunia.

On March 15…

Judge Adrian Fulford told the prosecution that they must reveal the identity of the intermediary working on behalf of the ICC. The prosecution stated that when the identity is revealed the court will need to offer protection to the intermediary. A witness for the defense,  testified in closed session today.

The next day, the witness continued her testimony in closed session while being recorded on camera.

On March 17…

”Witness 15′  who had testified in June that he had lied to prosecutors about being in the UPC and seeing child soldiers in the UPC, testified again today. He told the court he was paid by an intermediary to lie, specifically stating, “each time I met the investigators, I had an intermediary who came to see me at the hotel. He would tell me everything I had to say. Although he told me everything I was supposed to say, he was not the one who went before the investigators. He gave me the general idea and I was allowed to add a few details.” He further stated that “The (ICC) investigators did not influence me in any manner.”

When asked by prosecutor Nicole Samson why the witness had not said he had lied during any of his interviews with ICC officials he stated, “I requested for the services of a lawyer [in 2006] because I was giving certain explanations and they were not being taken. I therefore wanted to be protected personally. I did not want to find myself in a situation of difficulty.”

Prosecutor Manoj Sachdeva stated prosecutors would appeal the decision to reveal the identity of one the intermediaries for the prosecution stating that such information would have, “grave consequences in terms of the potential safety of our intermediaries, of their families and the organizations they work for, in addition to making it even more difficult for the prosecutor to perform his duties in the field investigating conflict areas.”

The witness continued his testimony the next day explaining that when he tried to tell investigators that he had lied during his testimony he was ignored. He further stated that he requested a lawyer several times, but was ignored.

On March 22…

‘Witness 15’ was cross examined by prosecutor Nicole Samson, who questioned his lack of opportunity to tell the truth, “You talked about past contact with different people, [but] you never once asked to speak to a lawyer during that time.” To which the witness responded by stating the prosecution should check how many times the witness requested to speak with a lawyer.

The eleventh witness for the defense testified mostly in closed session, but while in public testified that he had been a soldier. The eleventh witness testified that he took the identity of his friend to receive services from the Congolese National Commission for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration of ex-combatants (CONADER).

On March 24, the twelfth witness called by the defense testified in closed session due to security concerns.

The next day trial was cancelled for unknown reasons.

On March 30…

Witness 14 for the defense gave all of her testimony from the DRC via video.  The witness is reportedly the mother of a prosecution witness who told the court his mother was dead.

The next day the defense requested to re-examine a prosecution witness,  Witness 298, because “the answer he gave with respect to his mother was a bit ambivalent. We would like that the material which has been presented so far should be reviewed…” The prosecution opposed this re-examination.

APRIL in REVIEW

On April 1…

After a three week court break for the spring judicial recess, delays from flight disruptions from the volcano ash and the Bema hearing, on which two of the judges in the Lubanga trial also preside, the Lubanga trial resumed on April 29, eight days later than expected.

On April 29…

Joseph Keta, a lawyer for victims, questioned two new witnesses about the education they received.

Mr. Chonga, one of the witnesses, further testified that the UPC soldiers raped women. When asked by the prosecution the ages of children in the UPC camp, Mr. Chonga stated that some were younger than him and that, “When the girls went for military service they were married directly. Only a minimal number finished the training.”

This post was created by Kate Davey through sourcing from the reporting of  Wairagala Wakabi and Tracey Gurd from lubangatrial.org

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Filed under: Congo, Lubanga Trial

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