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Witness Questioned Again About Payments To Intermediaries

An employee of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was today questioned by attorneys for war crimes accused Thomas Lubanga about payments the court’s prosecution office made to its intermediaries who contacted former child soldiers that testified against Mr. Lubanga. 

The witness works as a field liaison officer for the ICC’s Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) in eastern Democratic of Congo (DRC), where Mr. Lubanga is alleged to have committed the crimes of enlisting, conscripting, and using children under the age of 15 years in armed conflict.

This witness, who testified earlier on June 14 and 15, 2010, was called back when the defense stated that it needed to reexamine him after studying documents that were recently disclosed by prosecutors. He gave testimony today via videolink from DRC. His face and voice were distorted so as to protect his identity.

During today’s hearing, the first to be held since July when judges imposed a stay of proceedings in the trial, lead defense counsel Catherine Mabille questioned the witness about payments to an intermediary, who goes by the pseudonym ‘Mr. X’, and the circumstances under which this intermediary subsequently complained about the alleged misconduct of OTP investigators he was dealing with.

The witness said the money he gave ‘Mr. X’ was to cater for the transportation of former child soldiers, who were brought to the field liaison officer for screening. He said all payments to the intermediary were authorized by OTP investigators or supervisors based at The Hague. 

“Did someone from MONUC (the UN Military Observer Mission in Congo) call you that Mr. X had laid a complaint about the behavior of the ICC with regard to him?” asked the defense attorney. 

“We had heard that Mr. X had approached MONUC so as to complain,” the witness replied. He added, “Mr. X had made complaints… about the way the ICC was operating and in particular what he considered certain dysfunctions.” The witness gave details of this complaint in closed session. 

In response to Ms. Mabille’s question, the witness said he was not aware of any financial claims by intermediaries being considered unjustified by the OTP. However, he stated that at some point his supervisors instructed him not to deal with ‘Mr. X’ because he was no longer an intermediary. Similar instructions were given about another intermediary who was referred to in court as ‘Mr. Z’. The witness did not say in open court why these individuals ceased being intermediaries. 

The witness testified that he screened several children, who had served as soldiers with the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), in a bid to find those who fitted the profile the OTP was looking for. The UPC is the group that prosecutors allege Mr. Lubanga headed. 

While referring to several documents, including screening notes and email exchanges between the liaison officer and his OTP supervisors, Ms. Mabille asked the witness why several of the children he had been asked to screen eventually were left out. She also asked about discrepancies between lists of children which ‘Mr. X’ had and those prosecution investigators provided to the witness. 

“Sometimes he [Mr. X] would have to go to the field to look for a child or another and then he would call to tell me that such and such a child is not available, or cannot be found,” the witness replied. At one time all 16 children who were due to be screened could not be traced, the witness said. 

While the witness affirmed that he had screened some particular children Ms. Mabille asked about, all subsequent examination was in closed session. It was hence not possible to know what the interest of the defense was in these particular individuals. In the past, however, some defense witnesses have testified that intermediaries bribed children to give false testimony that they were former child soldiers in the UPC.

The field liaison officer completed his testimony today. A new witness is expected to appear tomorrow.