During a brief public session on Thursday, lawyers pressed a former child soldier on details surrounding his alleged abduction and conscription into defendant Thomas Lubanga’s militia.
The unnamed witness told prosecutors on Wednesday that he was at school when he saw soldiers arrive to take children away. He fled to his home, but the soldiers followed him there and took him in a vehicle to a training camp.
Defense attorney Jean-Marie Biju-Duval said this version of events differed from what the witness had told investigators in a 2005 statement.
In his original statement, the witness did not mention seeing the soldiers at school. Instead, he said the soldiers came to his village in the evening.
“I gave the specific place where I was arrested [in my statement]. I didn’t go further,” the witness responded, adding that “school was open in the afternoon.”
Biju-Duval then questioned the witness about the vehicle that took him and other recruits to the training camp.
“How many children were in the vehicle?” asked Biju-Duval.
“I can’t tell you the exact amount,” responded the witness.
When Biju-Duval pressed him repeatedly on this point, the witness became exasperated.
“I really can’t tell you!” he exclaimed.
Biju-Duval then noted the witness’s 2005 statement in which he stated that he traveled “by foot” to the training camp.
“Today, you say you were transported by vehicle. How do you explain the difference?” asked Biju-Duval.
“When I say ‘by foot,’ that’s what the militia said to us,” responded the witness. “But when we were arrested, we got into a vehicle.”
The witness also told prosecutors that he was shot in the foot during a battle, but still participated in looting the village afterwards.
“Did that injury not prevent you from… looting?” asked Biju-Duval.
“If you didn’t pillage, it would be like you didn’t do anything [in the battle],” said the witness. “After getting stitches, I had to… follow along with the others [and] rejoice with them.”