Defendant Thomas Lubanga told new military recruits that he wanted to transform the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a witness revealed to prosecutors on Thursday.
“[Lubanga] simply asked the men to be calm, and said the [Union of Congolese Patriots] wanted peace and that we were going to remake our country,” explained the unnamed witness, a former UPC soldier who also trained new recruits. “It would be a new and young country.”
The witness, who continued his testimony from Wednesday, said Lubanga made his remarks during a morale-boosting speech delivered at a large military training center in Mandro, about 12 miles outside the Ituri city of Bunia.
Children in the camp were also present during Lubanga’s speech, the witness said, and they sang songs in Swahili to raise their spirits and prepare for battle.
When prosecutor Manoj Sachdeva questioned the witness about Lubanga’s role in military operations, he said Lubanga was not directly involved.
“The president didn’t have any role in operations because he wasn’t soldier,” the witness said. “He would stay in his residence and wait for reports [from his main staff].”
When Sachdeva pressed the issue, the witness reiterated that Lubanga wasn’t a “military man.”
“He would not be present where there was shooting amongst soldiers,” he said.
The defense, which began cross-examination late Thursday, will continue on Friday.