A former child soldier in the militia of Thomas Lubanga described being beaten, whipped, and forced to stare at the sun as punishment for disobeying orders, he told the court on Thursday.
As a guard in the militia of Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots, the witness said he followed his commander – referred to as Commander A – everywhere, except on his trips to Uganda.
He did whatever the commander asked of him, such as beating and arresting people, or detaining children as a means to get money from their parents.
Commander A also had the witness arrest girls and women with whom he wanted to have sex. The witness told the court that the girls were about 15 or 16 years-old. At other times they were older, and sometimes were adults.
Although the girls might resist, he said, they could not refuse.
On one occasion, the witness said he was asked to arrest a girl who “was in the second form (grade) of secondary school,” but did not do it.
When he told Commander A that the girl was not home, the commander did not believe him, he said. The commander then sent another guard to get her.
When the other guard returned with the girl, Commander A ordered the witness to be whipped.
A whipping meant being beaten with sticks, ropes, and fists, the witness said, adding that it was hard to know who was doing the beating or with what, because he couldn’t see.
After he was whipped, the witness said he admitted that he had lied. As further punishment, the commander ordered the witness to stand outside and stare directly at the sun.
After a while, the commander allowed the witness to stop staring. His weapon was returned to him and he resumed his duties.
When asked by the prosecution if he was beaten more than once, the witness replied, “My commander didn’t whip me often. Sometimes he punched me, but he didn’t whip me often.”
The defense began its cross-examination of the witness on Thursday, and will continue on Friday.