The war crimes trial of alleged former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga today continued exclusively in closed session.
On Monday, defense attorney Jean-Marie Biju-Duval stated that he planned to conduct most of the cross-examination of the witness who goes by the pseudonym ‘intermediary 321’ in closed session. “I am ready to start [intermediary] 321’s examination, but I would like to inform the chamber that, unfortunately, almost all of my examination will have to be done in private session,” he said.
Since then, the evidence of this witness, who was an intermediary of the Office of The Prosecutor (OTP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been heard in closed session.
“Intermediary 321’ is testifying at the bidding of judges about the role allegedly played by intermediaries in the abuse of court process, which – according to the defense – included bribing and coaching witnesses who have testified at the Hague-based trial of Mr. Lubanga. Besides ‘intermediary 321’, two other intermediaries and three OTP investigators are to testify about the alleged corruption of evidence.
The prosecution contends that Mr. Lubanga, as the head of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), conscripted, recruited and used child soldiers in armed ethnic conflict in the DRC during 2002 and 2003.
At the opening of its case, the defense stated that it would prove that prosecution witnesses who claimed to have been UPC child soldiers actually never served in the group. The defense is accordingly planning to lodge an application for judges to consider dismissing the case against Mr. Lubanga because of the purported abuse of process by OTP intermediaries.
Because the evidence of ‘intermediary 321’ has been heard solely in closed session, it is not known what he has been questioned about or what he has said. In addition to the intermediaries and investigators appearing at the behest of judges, the prosecution intends to call rebuttal witnesses to counter the defense’s abuse of process allegations.
The trial continues tomorrow with the testimony of ‘intermediary 321.’