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Defense Sessions Closed

During several brief open court sessions on Friday, the defense for Thomas Lubanga attempted to discredit a witness who provided details of his time as a child soldier and guard in Lubanga’s militia.

The witness confirmed earlier testimony that he was a guard at Lubanga’s residence, saying he replaced a guard who accompanied another commander on a mission.

Although the witness said he spent a week at Lubanga’s residence, he never saw him.

Defense lawyer Catherine Mabille focused on an apparent contradiction in the witness’s testimony regarding a battle the witness said was between Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and so-called “French” peacekeepers.

The witness said he did not participate in the battle and was not a soldier when the battle took place.

He had deserted the army, he said, and had befriended a boy his age who offered him shelter in a house where others were hiding with weapons.

The witness said he followed his friend to where the battle was taking place. Although he did not fight, he did not want to disappoint his friend and so he took a weapon, he said.

Mabille then asked him to read aloud an earlier statement where he had said: “I fought against the French. I told my friend that we should go back to school, but he said he was too old to re-enter into primary school, and we should fight.”

When asked to explain the contradiction, the witness maintained that he did not fight. “I can explain this-I did NOT fight. I had a weapon. I shot, but I did not shoot at anyone,” he said.

The court ended today in closed session, and no announcement was made regarding next week’s sessions.