The prosecution in the case of Thomas Lubanga presented several videos to the court on Tuesday, many of which contained images of what appeared to be small children in military uniform.
One particular scene showed a close-up of a large bug crawling on someone’s shoulder. When the camera zoomed out, the person was revealed to be a small boy dressed in a green t-shirt and a military fatigue cap.
Another video depicted a group of soldiers, identified as Lubanga’s bodyguards, riding in the back of a truck. Many of them appeared to be children.
Almost every time a child or young person in uniform appeared on camera, Prosecutor Olivia Struyven asked the court to go into closed session while she questioned the unnamed witness, who was continuing his testimony from Monday.
The unnamed witness was present at the events shown in the video clips, but in order to protect his identity, his specific role in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) has not been disclosed.
In the brief open sessions, Struyven questioned the unnamed witness on the circumstances surrounding each video. Most of the clips depicted meetings between Lubanga and others, including UN representatives and Ugandan army officials.
Other video clips showed Lubanga dressed in long, light blue robes – or sometimes in an army uniform addressing large crowds of people about the importance of the UPC’s mission.
While the videos played in the courtroom, the defendant watched on his computer monitor, but often removed his headphones.
At certain points in one video, Lubanga mentioned the large number of children around him and told the crowd that, “we went to your homes to ask you for help to create the army.”
Because the prosecution alleges that the UPC demanded monetary donations – and apparently the contribution of a child – for its army, Struyven questioned the witness on this point.
The witness responded that some money was collected from civilians, but not from the people in the crowd, since they were too poor. When asked if the public was asked to provide “other forms” of assistance, apparently referring to a child, the witness replied that he “couldn’t know.”
The prosecution will continue to examine the witness on Wednesday.