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Victim Describes Torture At UPC Camp

The second victim participating in the Lubanga trial on Friday related how he was tortured at a camp of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a militia group Thomas Lubanga is alleged by prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have led.

He also told court that UPC commanders ordered him to find for them young beautiful girls, and to take the militiamen to the homes of rich people in his village, which they then robbed.

The witness, a former child solder in UPC who has since gone back to school, said he had witnessed the execution by firing squad of UPC fighters who had committed offences. Prosecutor Nicole Samson asked him who ordered the executions and he said it was only the major in the camp who could order executions.

“Do you know the ages of people punished that way?” Samson asked of the executions.

“In the camp everyone was punished,” he replied.

In the training camp recruits were often flogged for failing to wake up early in the morning – although sometimes they were whipped for no reason. Every morning the trainees were woken and ordered by their trainers to dive into a river, he said.

He recalled a time when the wife and a bodyguard of his commander tortured him. He had chest pain and failed to wake up early in the morning, so he was whipped. Then the commander’s wife asked him to go to the river to fetch her some water. As he struggled back towards the camp, the 20-litre water container dropped and developed a leakage.

The commander’s wife could not take his explanation that he did not intend to damage the container. “The woman slapped me. I was soaking still. I said I didn’t do it on purpose; she said I did it on purpose,” he said.

As he tried to explain, one of the commander’s bodyguards joined in: “He hit me too with the butt of a rifle. And when I cried, he asked me not to cry. He brought out a knife from his pocket and stabbed it beside my eye. He cut me here and the bodyguard said he was going to do like a tattoo on the other side [of my eye] here. So he grabbed me by the testicles and he pulled me until I was hurt in that place.”

The witness testified outside the view of spectators in the public gallery, with his face and voice distorted to protect his identity. After the witness had indicated where he was stabbed, Samson said the witness had first motioned with his right hand to show he was stabbed first near the left eye. When the witness was indicating where the commander had said he would put a tattoo he had motioned to the right eye area, she said.

Although Lubanga is charged with enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers, prosecutors and legal representatives of victims also intend to show within the realm of those charges that there were sexual crimes and inhumane treatment of civilians and child soldiers by UPC too.