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Lubanga Defense Scrutinizes Payments To Intermediaries

Thomas Lubanga’s defense today scrutinized various payments made by the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) to Congo-based intermediaries who helped to put prosecution investigators in touch with witnesses. Among the financial records under scrutiny during today’s hearing were those related to ‘intermediary 143’.

According to the testimonies of several defense witnesses, ‘intermediary 143’ allegedly bribed and coached prosecution witnesses, particularly those who told court that they were former child soldiers in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). This intermediary is expected to take the witness stand to answer to allegations that he corrupted evidence against Mr. Lubanga.

During the continuing testimony of an OTP field liaison coordinator based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), lead defense attorney Catherine Mabille raised questions about various payments which the witness made to four intermediaries.

The witness explained that most of those payments were for the transportation, subsistence and communication costs of intermediaries. In some instances house rent was paid for the intermediaries after they had been relocated due to security concerns.

Testifying for the third day, the witness explained that OTP investigators based in the DRC and at The Hague would contact him to make payments to intermediaries. “I may know what the sums paid are for, or may not [know],” he said.

Ms. Mabille questioned the witness about payments to intermediaries who were identified as ‘Mr. X’, ‘Mr Y’, ‘Mr. Z’, and ‘intermediary 143’. Three of them introduced former child soldiers to the witness, who screened them and handed them over to investigators for in-depth interviews. Most of those children subsequently became prosecution witnesses.

Mr. Lubanga is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the recruitment, conscription, and use of child soldiers in armed conflict in the DRC while he purportedly led the UPC.

“All the people who work as intermediaries for the OTP are paid in accordance with the various tasks that they carry out,” he explained. “There is a sheet, a record that is prepared by the investigators at headquarters. They are the one who keep track of the tasks in the field and prepare a document showing the number of days of work that intermediaries did in the field, and that is the basis on which payment is made.”

The witness said he has known ‘intermediary 143’ since around 2007.

“Would you say ‘intermediary 143’ is still serving as an intermediary for the OTP?” inquired Ms. Mabille.

“To best of my knowledge, yes,” responded the witness. “I haven’t received any information that [intermediary] 143 is no longer an intermediary.”

All the subsequent questions about ‘intermediary 143’ and the witnesses he introduced to the OTP were put to the witness in closed session.

The witness recounted that in January 2008 he provided funds for the relocation of the intermediary referred to as ‘Mr. X’. According to receipts which Ms. Mabille referred to, in December of that year this intermediary signed for more money. The witness said this money had been given to ‘Mr. X’ by an investigator earlier in the year, but the intermediary had not signed for it.

The witness also said that in April 2009, this intermediary informed the OTP that he had gone back to his home since he was no longer under threat. He was reimbursed the money he had used to go back to his original home.

Meanwhile, the witness told court that ‘Mr. Y’ worked for a non-government organization and at some stage had to be relocated from the eastern Congo town of Bunia due to security concerns. This intermediary had introduced an unspecified number of witnesses to the OTP, he said. After his relocation from Bunia, the OTP paid for the hotel bills and subsistence of this intermediary from 2008 until he was included in the Victims and Witnesses Unit program of the ICC earlier this year.

Other receipts which Ms. Mabille questioned the witness about related to ‘Mr. Z’ whose transport, hotel, and communication costs were met by the OTP. The witness said Mr. Z’s assignment was to pick up two witnesses who were not former child soldiers.

The witness said all the money he gave to intermediaries and the individuals they introduced to the OTP was duly signed for and the receipts were submitted to the ICC headquarters.

The defense will tomorrow continue cross-examining the OTP official.