A headmaster at the school attended by two defense witnesses, whose identities were allegedly usurped by two individuals currently participating as victims and witnesses in the Thomas Lubanga trial, today recounted how he gave school documents to an agent of Mr. Lubanga’s lawyers.
Two defense witnesses who have testified over the last week have claimed that their identities were usurped by two individuals who went on to acquire dual status as victims and witnesses in Mr. Lubanga’s trial.
Mr. Lubanga’s lawyers claim that the two individuals purportedly using false identities gave evidence at the trial last January and claimed they were former child soldiers in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), the group which prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) allege was led by Mr. Lubanga. Mr. Lubanga is on trial over the use of child soldiers during 2002 and 2003.
In his testimony today, Adel Adubango, the current headmaster of the school which the two defense witnesses attended, said that Dieudonné Mbuna, the Congo-based investigator for Mr. Lubanga’s defense, approached him last November and requested to access some school records.
Mr. Adubango said he had become the headmaster of the school in 2008.
“So all the documents [you gave him] you had no part whatsoever in compiling the content?” asked prosecuting attorney Manoj Sachdeva.
“Yes,” replied Mr. Adubango.
“And you cannot verify the accuracy of this content?” added Mr. Sachdeva.
“I filed these documents as I found them in the office,” replied the witness. “And when Mr. Mbuna arrived we tried to gather these documents that could be of interest to him.”
The witness said that Mr. Mbuna took the documents to make photocopies, and returned them to the school the next day.
“He returned the documents and he handed me the originals. He asked me that I approve the photocopies, that I authenticate them with my signature and a stamp. I complied and I wrote that they were certified copies of the originals,” said Mr. Adubango.
Mr. Sachdeva asked the witness whether he could tell if the documents had been altered overnight while in Mr. Mbuna’s hands. The witness replied that he did not think the documents were altered given the brief period they were with Mr. Mbuna.
Meanwhile, presiding judge Adrian Fulford said today that two victims alleged by the defense to be using false identities were Witness 225 and Witness 229 who testified last January.
In his testimony, Witness 225, who described himself as a former child soldier, recalled how he was abducted by militiamen belonging to the UPC, got tortured at a training camp, and watched his friends get killed in battle “like flies”.
For his part, Witness 229 described torture at a UPC camp, and claimed commanders ordered him to find for them young beautiful girls, and to take militiamen to the homes of rich people in his village, which they then robbed.
According to the defense, the identities of the two defense witnesses who have testified over the last week were stolen by the headmaster who preceded Mr. Adubango at the school. The unnamed headmaster, who is referred to in court as ‘Mr. P’, reportedly signed their application forms for participation as victims in the trial of Mr. Lubanga.
The defense contends that although their applications were accepted by the ICC, different individuals are now participating as victims in the trial, but using the names of these two defense witnesses.
Prosecutors will continue cross-examining Mr. Adubango on Tuesday.