An intermediary of prosecution investigators today denied that he bribed former child soldiers or their parents to provide incriminating testimony against war crimes accused Thomas Lubanga.
Testifying for the second day, the individual who goes by the court name of ‘intermediary 321’ said he did not ask or bribe anybody to provide false evidence. He said the money that he gave to the former child soldiers and their parents was to cater for their transportation to and from the venues where they were interviewed by prosecution investigators.
The witness also stated that he gave the parents of the former child soldiers US$10 each which they left at home before they accompanied the children to the interviews with the investigators.
He said: “We were dealing with responsible people, people who are heads of families and [they] wouldn’t agree to leave their families without leaving resources with them.” And he went on: “Before a member of the family left [their home] I would give them US$10, and that money would be left with the family.”
The intermediary told the trial presided over by Judge Adrian Fulford that he never told any child or parent to lie to investigators about the children having served as fighters in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC). Mr. Lubanga, the alleged former head of the UPC, is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the recruitment, conscription and use of child soldiers in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has denied the charges, which prosecutors claim he committed during 2002 and 2003.
Judges ordered the prosecution to produce ‘intermediary 321’ to give evidence, after a number of defense witnesses implicated him in various acts of corrupting evidence. Among others, some witnesses claimed that this intermediary bribed some individuals who were never child soldiers to lie to investigators that they were former members of the UPC. Some of these individuals reportedly went on to testify as prosecution witnesses and to claim that they were conscripted into the UPC.
The intermediary told the trial today that none of the investigators he met ever told him the questions they would ask the children or their parents. He also said he never asked the children or their parents what they had discussed with investigators.
“I had no idea what would be discussed and I never told any child or parent what would be said. And I never told any child or parent to go and lie,” stated ‘intermediary 321’.
The intermediary, who testified with protective measures such as voice and face distortion, denied that he ever asked any children to lie about their names or their dates of birth. Most of his evidence was given in closed session.
According to Mr. Lubanga’s defense, all eight prosecution witnesses who claimed to have been UPC child soldiers never served with the group. The defense says it is about to file an application for judges to consider dismissing the case against Mr. Lubanga because of the alleged abuse of process perpetuated by the intermediaries.
Besides ‘intermediary 321’, two other intermediaries and three investigators will also testify about the alleged corruption of evidence.
The defense will tomorrow start cross-examining ‘intermediary 321’.