Defense lawyers questioned a witness today on why he repeatedly hid his weapon after leaving the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).
“If you were caught with your weapon, they would take it from you and you would be arrested,” the witness told Marc Desalliers, one of Lubanga’s lawyers.
The witness, who continued his testimony from yesterday, did not explain during open session how or why he left the UPC. But after leaving the militia, he decided to bury his weapon and get rid of his uniform.
“I put it in a plastic bag and then I threw it away [into a river],” the witness said about his uniform.
When pressed to explain why he did not also throw out his weapon, the witness responded that a weapon is a “precious item that must be kept.”
“Your weapon was buried for two years, is that correct?” asked Desalliers.
“Yes, because whenever I moved, I would take my weapon with me,” the witness said. “I would wrap it up and hide it underground.”
Eventually, the witness said, he exchanged his weapon for money and clothing, apparently with a non-governmental organization in the Ituri region.
After the witness concluded his testimony, the court learned that an earlier witness, who had provided a false statement to prosecutors, could return.
Catherine Mabille, Lubanga’s lead attorney, told judges that a new statement had been obtained from Witness 15, and he could be available to the court by next Tuesday.
It remains unclear, however, whether the prosecution will again question Witness 15.
Later, a new protected witness took the stand on Wednesday, just moments before court adjourned, and spoke briefly about the conflict in Ituri. He is expected to resume his testimony on Thursday morning.