At least four prosecution witnesses will be called back to the witness stand to rebut evidence advanced by Thomas Lubanga’s defense, the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) said today.
Prosecuting attorney Manoj Sachdeva said that besides the four prosecution witnesses who testified last year, they were also trying to have at least two other individuals to travel to The Hague to testify as rebuttal witnesses.
Mr. Lubanga is accused of conscripting, recruiting, and using child soldiers during 2002 and 2003. According to prosecutors at the International criminal Court (ICC), Mr. Lubanga was the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a group that used child soldiers in inter-ethnic fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province.
Mr. Sachdeva said that the prosecution witnesses the OTP wanted to call back included ‘Witness 38’ whom he said was the first witness that testified for the prosecution. This witness stated that he was a former child soldier in the UPC. Prosecutors said he was introduced to the OTP by intermediary 316, who is due to give evidence at the behest of judges.
Mr. Sachdeva said the statement by ‘Witness 38’ states that there was nothing untoward that took place between him and the intermediary. “He stated that he was never asked to lie. What he told the prosecution was the truth. In our submission, this is relevant to the rebuttal of evidence against Witness 316,” he said.
According to Mr. Lubanga’s defense, intermediaries of OTP investigators corrupted evidence, including through bribing and coaching witnesses. The defense said today that it is about to complete writing its application for judges to dismiss the case against Mr. Lubanga on the grounds of abuse of process. Two intermediaries and at least two investigators will testify in the trial before the defense submits its application.
The OTP also wanted ‘Witness 551’ to reappear to rebut evidence relating to documents that a defense witness authenticated. This witness would also give evidence as to the way schooling was conducted in Ituri province and about the reliability of school records during the period of unrest in the area.
Mr. Sachdeva said the OTP wanted “Witness 555’ to give evidence relevant to the climate of fear and intimidation amongst persons in Bunia in relation to UPC and its supporters, specifically if they were alleged to have cooperated with the ICC.
Meanwhile, ‘Witness 496’ would give evidence about the age of his two sons who testified for the prosecution. Besides, he would give evidence about intimidation and possible threats by UPC supporters and by a resource person of Mr. Lubanga’s defense team. ‘Witness 496’ would additionally give evidence regarding the participation of children in the UPC.
According to Mr. Sachdeva, there were also other persons the prosecution was trying to contact so they could appear as rebuttal witnesses. These included a friend to ‘Witness 29’ who would collaborate the fact that ‘Witness 29’ indeed served in the UPC.
Prosecutors also wanted judges to order that the identity of a person referred to in court as ‘Kordo’ should be revealed, so the OTP could then call him as a rebuttal witness. Court has heard from prosecution and defense witnesses that ‘Kordo’, who was apparently close to Mr. Lubanga, threatened individuals who were cooperating with the ICC.
Judge Adrian Fulford asked the OTP to provide a comprehensive list of the witnesses they intended to call and when they were likely to be ready to testify. The list has to be provided to the court next Monday.