War crimes accused Thomas Lubanga’s defense today asked judges to order the disclosure of the names of three intermediaries of the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) who are due to give evidence related to the alleged corruption of evidence.
Defense attorney Jean-Marie Biju-Duval stated that the defense needed this information in order to better prepare for its questioning of the intermediaries. Among others, the defense would like to question them about the role they played in getting purported former child soldiers to give evidence for the prosecution.
Besides, “the defense needs to know what was the role and involvement of ‘intermediary 321’ and ‘intermediary 143’ in the requests for participation of the victims [in the trial],” said Mr. Biju-Duval. He stated the defense would apply to be provided with information relating to the link between intermediaries and victims participating in the case.
Biju-Duval added: “We can only ascertain this if the redactions in respect of their [intermediaries’] names are lifted.” The defense was requesting the lifting of the redactions in respect to the names of intermediaries 143, 321, and 316 in the requests for victims to participate in the trial, he said. Judges did not immediately rule on this application.
Nonetheless, presiding judge Adrian Fulford said that the first of the three intermediaries was expected to appear in court next week. The three intermediaries, as well as two investigative staff from the OTP, will testify at the behest of judges, and will be questioned about the alleged abuse of process in the collection of incriminating evidence and the alleged coaching of prosecution witnesses.
Many of Mr. Lubanga’s witnesses have claimed that intermediaries bribed and coached witnesses. Lead defense attorney Catherine Mabille has also alleged that none of the seven prosecution witnesses who testified that they were former child soldiers in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) actually were what they claimed to be.
According to International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors, Mr. Lubanga was the head of the UPC, which used child soldiers in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during 2002 and 2003. Mr. Lubanga has denied the charges, and his defense is preparing an application to judges to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds of abuse of process. This application will be filed after the testimony of the intermediaries, the investigators, and about four prosecution rebuttal witnesses.
Prosecutors have indicated that some of the rebuttal witnesses would testify to the fact that prosecution witnesses who told court that they were former UPC child soldiers actually were telling the truth. Others would refute allegations that intermediaries corrupted evidence, and yet others would show that Mr. Lubanga’s supporters were intimidating people who cooperated with the ICC’s investigators.
Meanwhile, the defense today opposed the prosecution’s proposal to call ‘witness 555’ among the rebuttal witnesses. Biju-Duval said the defense did not know the identity of this witness and the contents of his testimony.
But the defense did not oppose a request by prosecutors that ‘intermediary 316’ should be provided with the transcripts of the court testimony of two witnesses, one of who testified for the defense.
Judges upheld this request, noting that in order for this witness to give meaningful evidence, it was proper for him to be informed of the allegations that had made about him so that he could reflect on them in advance.