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Defense Queries Victim’s Account Of Abductions

The Lubanga defense today questioned the participating victim who begun giving evidence at the Lubanga trial on Tuesday, querying his account of how rebels abducted pupils from a school where he was the schoolmaster, and the authenticity of the medical records he presented before the court.

Defense counsel Jean-Marie Biju-Duval put it to the witness that the medical forms he presented in court were not issued at the time he sought treatment after reportedly being beaten by the fighters, but moths later when he was applying to participate in the trial of Thomas Lubanga.

The witness, who is unnamed, and whose voice and face were distorted to protect his identity, acknowledged that although the person who treated him was the one who had provided the medical records he presented to the court, he had got those records with the intention of using them in case there was a prosecution of the armed militia. The medical documents were appended to his application to participate in the trial as a victim.

The witness said Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia hit him with gun butts when he tried to stop them from abducting his pupils from a school in Mahagi in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He told court presided over by Judge Adrian Fulford that after he was repeatedly struck by the fighters, he lost consciousness and was initially treated at a nearby clinic before being transferred to neighbouring Uganda for further treatment.

But the defense asked the witness how sure he was that it was UPC fighters that abducted his pupils and beat him up yet fighters of the Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI) group were also in the area. The witness said he was sure they were UPC, as the group later established a base at the school.

Most of the evidence by this witness was heard in closed session to protect his identity. In the few public sessions, he said Lubanga was the leader of UPC, and accused the militia of having conscripted his pupils, committed sexual crimes and pillaged his home region of Mahagi. Lubanga is accused of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years, and using them to fight under the UPC during 2002 and 2003.

Two more victims participating in the trial will give evidence this week and then the defense case will start.