Prosecutors in the trial of Thomas Lubanga rested their case on Tuesday, after more than five months and 30 witnesses.
The final day of proceedings before a long recess was conducted mostly in closed session, as defense lawyers cross-examined the prosecution’s last witness, who spoke in French with digital voice and face distortion.
The witness began testifying Monday afternoon in closed session. He appeared to have connections with Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), but this was not clarified in open court.
Earlier, United Nations child protection specialist Christine Peduto appeared once again to answer additional questions regarding her testimony, which spanned five days.
Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito asked Peduto to explain the difference between the expression “children associated with armed groups” and the term “child soldiers.”
“‘Child soldier’ is a bit restrictive,” responded Peduto. “We prefer to use ‘children associated with armed groups’, which reflects a broader reality…[because] we are not only talking about combatants who carry weapons. Children were used as informers, for logistical activities, as drivers, bodyguards, and children were subjected to sexual abuse.”
After the judges concluded their questions, Prosecutor Julieta Solano McCausland asked Peduto to clarify some aspects of her previous testimony. She asked Peduto to explain what she meant when she said that children conscripted by the UPC had to “fetch food”.
“They had to loot,” Peduto responded. “It was a fact of life.”
As he has for most of the trial, Lubanga appeared in a dark suit and remained solemn during the witness testimony.
The defense is expected to begin its case in October, but a precise date has not been set.
What is your opinion on this first stage of the trial proceedings? Do you think the prosecutor has proved his case?
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