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Two Victims Called Back At Defense’s Bidding

Two victims participating in the Thomas Lubanga trial who had concluded giving their evidence have been called back to the witness box for more questioning at the bidding of the defense team. The prosecution and the legal representatives of the victims did not object to the request by the defense.  

During today’s hearing, Judge Adrian Fulford said that the victims’ representative Joseph Keta and the prosecution’s Olivia Struyven had presented to judges some documents which the chamber found of sufficient substance to necessitate calling back the first two participating victims who had testified in court during the last two weeks.

Fulford said calling back the duo would enable Lubanga’s defense team to ask them about certain issues which had “self-evidently arisen” earlier today, and on which the defense had questioned the third participating victim on Monday. He did not mention what those issues were, and the defense’s questioning of the witness was in closed session.

The recalled witnesses are a former schoolmaster in Mahagi village in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a former pupil who told court that he was conscripted by soldiers of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). One of them was expected to re-appear in court today afternoon, but because the court sat in closed session it was not clear whether he did.

Lubanga, the first person to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC), faces charges of enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers during 2002 and 2003. He has denied the charges.

The three victims participating in the trial who have given evidence – the former schoolmaster and two former child soldiers – have told court about the existence of child soldiers in UPC and how trainees in the militia group were treated brutally.

As the third participating victim was about to complete giving his evidence today, Judge Elizabeth Odio-Benito asked him whether the girls at the training camp he attended wore military uniforms. He said they did.

She then asked the witness what the girls’ roles were. “Some of the girls were partners of soldiers,” he said.

“Did you see any of those girls fight in any of the battles you were involved in?” the judge asked.

“I saw two of them fighting,” said the witness.

A total of 103 victims are participating in the Lubanga trial. Last year they unsuccessfully petitioned the court to add charges of inhumane treatment and sexual violence to those Lubanga is currently charged with.