|A former child soldier in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) told court on Friday that one of his roles was to identify the militia group’s enemies, and then those enemies were shot by other UPC soldiers.
Testifying as a victim in the trial of former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga, the witness said he took part in battles at Bunia and Mongwalu as a UPC soldier. “Once the UPC saw and found the enemy, what happened with the enemy?” asked prosecutor Olivia Struyven.
Witness: “Once the enemy was found, he was seized and they asked him where the tunnels were where other enemies were to be found.”
Struyven: “And then what was done with the enemy, if anything was done with the enemy?”
Witness: “Once the enemy was trapped and once he had shown the tunnels that they were looking for, he was shot.”
Struyven: “Did you see that yourself?”
Witness: “Yes, I saw that during the battle.”
Struyven also asked the witness about his defection from UPC. He said he had fled the battlefield at Mongwalu because he feared he would get killed in battle. Asked what would have happened to him if his commanders had caught him as he tried to escape, the witness said he did not know.
Earlier, he had told court that there were child soldiers in UPC, but when he was asked what their ages were, he said he could not tell. Lubanga is being tried at the International Criminal court (ICC) with war crimes related to using children under the age of 15 in inter-ethnic conflict.
The witness said that following his abduction by UPC fighters, he was trained for a week, then handed a sub-machine gun, and got dispatched to the frontline.
But later Lubanga’s lawyer Catherine Mabille showed the witness a statement he made to the ICC two and a half years ago, in which he stated that he had spent three months at the UPC training camp. She asked him whether he had undergone training for three months or one week. He said it was for one week.
“Am I to conclude that when you made this additional statement..[about spent three months at the training camp] that was incorrect?” Mabille asked.
“That’s true,” replied the witness.
Under questioning from Mabille, the witness also conceded that the claim made in his statement which was recorded in 2006 regarding his having taken part in battles at two other villages was equally incorrect.