The fourth witness called by the defense in the Thomas Lubanga trial appeared in court today but did not give any evidence in public session. The witness testified with protective measures including face and voice recognition.
The start of today’s hearing was delayed by an hour and a half, due to what Judge Adrian Fulford said were “difficulties” which the defense team had experienced earlier in the day.
The judge referred to these difficulties when the hearing finally kicked off: “We fully understand the difficulties that you had earlier today. Thank you for promptly contacting the court, and congratulations notwithstanding the difficulties of enabling us to save at least something from the afternoon,” he said. He did not elaborate what the difficulties were.
As the witness was called into court, Catherine Mabille, the head of Lubanga’s defense team, said she wanted to make sure that there was somebody to assist the witness to read the oath.
After the witness took the oath, court went into closed session for the rest of the day.
Last week, Mabille mentioned that the witness would require these protective measures. Mabille also requested last week that legal representatives of victims whose clients were not directly affected by the testimony of this witness should not be allowed in court while she gave evidence.
But Judge Fulford said he did not think the legal representatives would present a threat to her identity if they learnt who she was.
Today’s was the second defense witness to have testified with protective measures. The very first witness, who claimed he was the father of a prosecution witness who he said lied to court about having been a child soldier, testified with protective measures, although defense lawyers said he had earlier promised that he would testify without them.
The second and third defense witnesses have testified in full public view and also given their names. But most of their testimony was given in closed session.
Lubanga is accused of the war crimes of enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo during 2002 and 2003. His defense case opened on January 27, 2010. The prosecution started their case on January 26, 2009, and closed it on July 14 last year.