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Lubanga Trial Adjourns As New Witness Discloses His UPC Links

The Thomas Lubanga trial today adjourned early after prosecutors said they were not ready to cross-examine a new defense witness about some aspects of his testimony. The witness had told the trial that he was a former soldier in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC); prosecutors said the defense had withheld this fact from them.

The witness, the seventh called by Mr. Lubanga’s attorneys, testified in public view and said he was born in Bunia in Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He gave his age as 25 years, and said he joined UPC in 2002 when he had just gotten out of his teens.

Prosecutor Nicole Samson said it appeared the defense had deliberately removed the information about the involvement of this witness in the UPC militia from the brief which they prepared for the prosecutors. Accordingly, the prosecution requested for additional time to study this evidence to be able to question the witness about it.

Judge Adrian Fulford granted the application but warned that judges were concerned that such requests could lead to unacceptable delays to the trial. The judge observed that the prosecution had made a similar application about the previous defense witness. He advised the prosecution to always investigate not only the information contained in the summaries provided to them by the defense, but also other possibilities that could emerge during the course of testimony by witnesses.

Earlier in the day, the sixth defense witness completed his testimony. He testified mostly in closed session and had protective measures such as face and voice distortion to protect his identity. Although he said he was a former member of UPC, the gist of his evidence was not disclosed in public session.

Mr. Lubanga, the first person to be tried at the ICC, is accused of committing the war crimes of using child soldiers during 2003 and 2003.

Earlier today, the defense complained to judges that prosecutors were not honoring their disclosure obligations. The defense also reported that there were serious problems in court reporting and translations.