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Lubanga Defense Angered By Former ICC Consultant’s Book

Thomas Lubanga’s defense attorneys are disturbed by a book written by a former consultant with the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP), which they claim calls into question the rights of the accused and the entire judicial process.

Catherine Mabille, the lead defense attorney, said they intended to ask judges to admit extracts of the book into the case. Titled Un lézard au Congo (A Lizard In The Congo), the book published last August was written by Gil Courtemanche. 

On Monday this week, Ms. Mabille stated in court that Mr. Courtemanche had a contract with the International Criminal Court (ICC) from April 2008 to November 2009, and that he wrote the book while working with the OTP. She said the author explained that he worked very closely with ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo “for whom he drafted numerous speeches.” 

The defense is seeking to link the book to other alleged indiscretions by the OTP. Ms. Mabille told the trial court presided over by Judge Adrian Fulford that during the stay of proceedings in Mr. Lubanga’s trial, the prosecution had failed to respect its duty to stay impartial. “It has and still does provide disinformation and propaganda, which harms seriously the rights of the accused,” she charged. 

The OTP’s Manoj Sachdeva dismissed the defense’s accusations, stating that the book in question was a work of fiction. He added: “The defense can waste court’s time and file these submissions, but we submit that it should not take court time and we have to move on with this trial.”

Similarly, Luc Walleyn, one of the legal representatives for victims participating in the trial, suggested that court should not waste time on a novel whose author was not kind to Mr. Lubanga, the court, or the victims. Ms. Mabille maintained that although the author used the name ‘Thomas Kabanga’ for the main character, “in fact it appears very clearly that this book describes our case and this is a problem for us.”

Judge Fulford said they would wait for the filing by the defense and the prosecution’s response before pronouncing themselves on the matter. 

Besides the complaint about the book, on the first day of hearing the trial since appeals judges ordered its resumption, the defense also protested that the prosecution had failed to effect all the disclosures ordered by judges relating to the identity of an intermediary. Ms. Mabille said the OTP’s failure to make full disclosure could hamper the defense’s cross-examination of the scheduled witnesses. But the OTP countered that it had fully honored the disclosures ordered by trial judges. 

Failure by the prosecution to disclose to the defense the identity of ‘intermediary 143’ last July prompted the trial court to suspend the trial and order Mr. Lubanga’s release. Last Friday, the appeals chamber ruled that the stay of proceedings was an uncalled for and ordered the resumption of the trial. 

Monday’s proceedings centered on the possible dates on which witnesses, who were scheduled before the suspension of the trial, would be available to give evidence. The OTP was given up to today to provide a list of the pending witnesses and when they would be ready to give evidence. These witnesses include two intermediaries, two investigators from the OTP, and at least three rebuttal witnesses. 

At least two of the rebuttal witnesses will testify via video link from Bunia in DRC. The OTP investigators, who will be ready to testify in mid-November, will testify in court. Prosecutors had up to today to draw up a list of the scheduled witnesses and when they will be ready to give evidence. 

After evidence from the scheduled witnesses has been heard, the defense will ask judges to consider dismissing the case against Mr. Lubanga on the grounds that the alleged corruption of evidence instigated by intermediaries amounted to abuse of court process. The deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda this week introduced Tim Owens, a counsel she said would assist the prosecution in handling the abuse of process application.