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Defense Questions Witness in Closed Session

Defense lawyer Catherine Mabille grilled a witness about the 2007 statement he gave to court investigators, during Monday’s brief public session in the trial of Thomas Lubanga.

Although the witness confirmed that he had signed the French version of his statement, he claimed that he never initialed it, raising doubts regarding the validity of the initials on the document.

“You didn’t write your initials?” Mabille asked.

“What does the word initials mean?” inquired the witness.

The court then went into closed session for several hours and only briefly reopened before the proceedings adjourned for the day.

Mabille also questioned the witness about the circumstances surrounding his first escape from a militia training camp.

He had testified on Friday that he was abducted on three separate occasions by soldiers in Lubanga’s militia, but had escaped twice.

The first escape, he said, was when soldiers sent him to a nearby river to bring back the girl recruits who had been fetching water.

“Did you start by going to the river and then later on return home?” Mabille asked.

“I had an opportunity to escape, and I escaped immediately,” responded the witness.

Mabille then pressed the witness on details of his training camp experiences and exact dates when he was abducted – questions which the witness appeared to have difficulty answering.

“This all happened a very long time ago,” the witness said, responding to a series of questions. “I can’t remember very well,” he said.

The trial continues on Tuesday.