Adrian Fulford, the presiding judge in the Thomas Lubanga war crimes trial, today directed prosecutors to expeditiously produce two of their investigators who are required to give evidence at the behest of the chamber. The judge rejected explanations by prosecutors that they could not readily locate the investigators.
Judge Fulford rejected the prosecution’s explanation that it had of recent been unable to establish contact with the investigators. Stated the judge: “One possible individual [who could testify] is, in fact, sitting in court this afternoon and you must, I assume, have considered whether or not she should be called on this issue. Now there needs to be finality on this.” The judge did not say who this individual was.
The judge’s remark was in a response to prosecuting attorney Nicole Samson’s assertion that the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) was not in position to advise the court when the two investigators would be available to testify.
“One, even two, of the individuals that the chamber had itself suggested might be the most appropriate individuals are of course no longer [at] The Hague, no longer in Europe. And we are seeking to establish contact with them to determine their availability,” said Ms. Samson. “If they are available, it will nonetheless impact on the timing of their appearance, given that they would have to travel to The Hague and presumably review their own files in preparation for their testimony.”
Judge Fulford said if the prosecution did not produce the investigators, it was possible that the court would go for two weeks before hearing from the next witness. He said Mr. Lubanga’s lawyers had called all the witnesses they intended to produce to testify in support of their intended application for judges to stop proceedings against Mr. Lubanga on grounds of abuse of process.
Ultimately, OTP will have to inform court tomorrow when they will be able to produce the investigators.
Defense lawyers for Mr. Lubanga – who faces the war crimes of recruiting, conscripting, and using children under the age of 15 in armed conflict – have accused intermediaries of the OTP’s investigators of corrupting evidence against Mr. Lubanga. The lawyers say the intermediaries bribed and coached witnesses, some of who went on to allegedly claim falsely to the trial that they had served as child soldiers in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), the group Mr. Lubanga is said to have led.
It was only late last month that Judge Fulford disclosed that an OTP investigator and two intermediaries would testify in this trial, the first to be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Today, the judge indicated that two investigators would be required to testify.
Mr. Lubanga’s defense has called all the witnesses it intended to call to testify to the alleged corruption of evidence by the intermediaries. The last of these witnesses, a school inspector from Bunia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has provided numerous school records that purport to show that prosecution witnesses who told court that they were former child soldiers were never at the institutions they claimed to have attended.
Prosecutors today completed their cross-examination of the school inspector.
Tomorrow, legal representatives of victims participating in the trial will cross-examine him.