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Lubanga Trial At ICC Resumes Next Week

The war crimes trial of Thomas Lubanga at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to resume next week, according to a schedule released by the Hague-based court. 

Next week, the hearings will be conducted Monday to Friday and are likely to have ‘intermediary 321’ as the first witness to testify. This intermediary, who has been implicated in coaching and bribing witnesses, took the witness stand last July, but the trial was suspended midway his cross-examination. This was after the prosecution failed to disclose the identity of another individual known as ‘intermediary 143’. The defense had wanted to know the identity of ‘intermediary 143’ for its questioning of ‘intermediary 321’. 

At the bidding of judges, the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) will also produce at least one other intermediary and two of its investigators who worked on gathering evidence against Mr. Lubanga. According to prosecutors, the two investigators have indicated that they would be ready to testify after November 15, but judges have suggested that they appear earlier. 

Judges ordered the appearance of the OTP’s intermediaries and investigators after several defense witnesses testified that intermediaries bribed and coached witnesses and engaged in various other acts of forging evidence. 

The OTP will also call at least four rebuttal witnesses, two of whom will give evidence via videolink from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Mr. Lubanga stands accused of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years and using them in armed conflict in the DRC’s Ituri province during 2002 and 2003. Mr. Lubanga has been on trial at the ICC since January 2009. His trial was suspended last July when prosecutors failed to disclose the identity of ‘intermediary 143’.  On October 8, appeals judges decided that the trial should resume. 

Mr. Lubanga’s defense has said it will question the prosecution’s rebuttal witnesses about the responsibility of the OTP in the alleged corruption of evidence. Defense attorney Jean-Marie Biju-Duval has stated that besides the rebuttal witnesses, the defense would question OTP investigators and intermediaries about how testimony was corrupted and the people who played a role in this purported forgery. The defense would also ask witnesses what the OTP did as this alleged corruption of evidence was taking place, he said.

Among the rebuttal witnesses the prosecution plans to call is ‘witness 555’ who will testify that individuals who were thought to have cooperated with the ICC were being intimidated by supporters of Mr. Lubanga in Ituri. Another witness, who has previously testified for the prosecution, would testify that the intermediary who introduced him never asked him to falsify evidence or lie to the prosecution or to the court. 

According to the OTP, another rebuttal witness would give evidence regarding the participation of children in the UPC, while a father of two prosecution witnesses would testify that they indeed served in the UPC and that they were under 15 years of age at the time they were fighters with the group.

After these witnesses have given evidence, the defense plans to ask judges to dismiss the charges against Mr. Lubanga due to the alleged abuse of process.