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Defense Wants Better Access to Lubanga

The defense lawyer for Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga told the court on Wednesday that she needs better access to her client.

Catherine Mabille said defense team members are spending most of their lunch in discussions with Lubanga, and have less than an hour and a half in the evening with the accused, nearly all of which is wasted clearing security.

Judge Adrian Fulford said he was aware of the problem and suggested the possibility of ending the hearings slightly earlier, two or three days each week, in order to give the defense more time with Lubanga. “We want to get a sensible compromise that preserves the court day but also gives you the access you need to Mr. Lubanga,” said Fulford.

Meanwhile, prosecutor Manoj Sachdeva informed the court that the prosecution was withdrawing a witness from the list, a child soldier in Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia group. “For acute medical reasons, this witness will not be able to testify,” he said.

Sachdeva said another witness, known as Witness 4, was also unlikely to testify because of security concerns.

The court, which has heard 17 witnesses since the trial began on January 26, 2009 is now in recess until May 5, 2009.