Thomas Lubanga, the accused leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), was portrayed in video clips on Friday as seeking peace between ethnic groups in the Ituri region.
“We must work together,” Lubanga stated in one video. “We must not tolerate that people continue to massacre other people on our territory of Ituri.”
Although much of Friday’s proceedings were closed, undated videos showed Lubanga blaming outsiders for provoking ethnic clashes between the Hema and Lendu people of Ituri.
“People came here with the intention of committing massacres, but they need to know that those times are past,” Lubanga said in one clip.
The video clips portrayed Lubanga quite differently than those shown on Thursday, which suggested that Lubanga was a hindrance to a peace deal urged by the Ituri Pacification Commission.
On Friday, however, Lubanga is seen as calling for peace, not blocking it. “Each person has the right to life,” Lubanga stated. “We have very little time. We have a work program which concerns everyone.
“If you want us to be respected in the international community, we must act in the spirit of peace […] The people who came here have begun to divide us, but we grew up here. We didn’t know what ethnic group our neighbors are from.
“Let’s build peace amongst ourselves,” Lubanga continued. “If you are a Hema or a Lendu, it doesn’t matter what ethnic group you are from.”
Following the video clips, the court turned to procedural matters.
Because the prosecution has presented much of its case and may conclude in late June or early July, Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford asked defense lawyer Catherine Mabille about her team’s plans.
Mabille said the defense intended to wait until the prosecution had presented its evidence in its entirety before calling witnesses.
“We think it is necessary to have a time limit of three months between when the prosecution ends its case and we call our witnesses” Mabille said. “We are concerned we should speed up things, but we think if we do not prepare well in advance, we will lose more time.”
Fulford responded that the court had no objection to the defense opening its case at the beginning of September. Any later than that, he said, would require a written justification.
Fulford also said he was concerned about protection of defense witnesses, adding that it would be “a tragedy” if the case was delayed because witness protection had not been resolved.
He urged the defense to begin talks with the court’s victims and witnesses unit about witness protection measures.
The trial continues on Tuesday and Wednesday next week, before the court takes a spring recess.