Prosecutors have asked judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to call as a court witness a purported cousin of war crimes accused Thomas Lubanga to give evidence about his alleged role in intimidating witnesses and influencing them to give false testimony.
The prosecutors suggested in a June 18, 2010 application that judges could alternatively order the defense to call the individual known as ‘Cordo’ as a witness. Prosecutors would like Cordo to take the witness stand before the defense files its application for judges to consider throwing out the case against Mr. Lubanga on the grounds of abuse of process.
The application stated: “From the evidence which has emerged in the case, in which a witness has testified that Cordo attempted to persuade him to give false testimony before the court and succeeded in convincing at least two other witnesses, it should be beyond dispute that the evidence of Cordo is necessary for the determination of the truth.”
Mr. Lubanga is charged with the war crimes of conscripting, recruiting, and using child soldiers in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo during 2002 and 2003. Prosecutors claim he committed the crimes when he was the purported head of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and its armed militia.
According to prosecutors, Cordo acted as an intermediary for Mr. Lubanga’s defense but his identity remains a secret. They want judges to order that Cordo’s anonymity be lifted.
Prosecutors said one of their witnesses had testified that Cordo asked him directly to deny the fact that he had been a child soldier. Another testified that other witnesses had lied before the court at Cordo’s request, they added.
Other witnesses had testified that Cordo exerted pressure on them and their families once he learned that they were collaborating with the court. According to the prosecutors, he either approached these witnesses or their relatives directly or conveyed this information to the community.
Moreover, ‘defense witness 4’ was originally screened as a possible prosecution witness. “However, he later refused to give a statement to the prosecution and appeared on behalf of the defense. He admitted on cross-examination that he had been pressured by Cordo and other UPC leaders for collaborating with the ICC,” the prosecution said in its application.
The application for judges to order Cordo’s appearance in court came as the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) was elaborating on its own staff and intermediaries who would be giving evidence.
“The Prosecution has identified the OTP representatives that were most closely involved in the recruitment and managing of intermediaries 316 and 321 at the relevant times and are therefore in the best position to provide comprehensive evidence on the allegations put forth by the defense,” a prosecution filing of Friday June 18, 2010 stated. “They are being called to address specific and particular points regarding the intermediaries who were implicated by the defense witnesses relevant to the abuse of process claim.”
At the bidding of judges, ‘intermediary 316’ and ‘intermediary 321’ will also testify about their alleged role in the abuse of process, which according to investigators included bribing and coaching witnesses.
Last week, a field liaison coordinator of the OTP in Congo , who made payments to intermediaries, told court that he was not aware that any of their agents engaged in improper conduct.
Court has this week not held any hearings because the OTP investigators and intermediaries who have been called to give evidence were not yet ready to take the witness stand.
The trial is expected to resume next week with the testimony of an intermediary.