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Final Defense Witness Concludes Testimony

The final defense witness in the trial of Thomas Lubanga continued his testimony this morning. In response to questioning by defense counsel Marc Desalliers, he reported that a delegation from the prosecutor’s office in The Hague came to his neighborhood in Bunia town. The witness invited them to accompany him into the field to check his testimony, but they did not go. “What I know is to do an investigation, you have to go to the field to see what reality is there,” he told the court.

Mr. Desalliers then questioned the witness about his recent suspension from his position as chief of the avenue. He was suspended, he said, because he is giving testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Prosecutor Nicole Samson questioned the witness about training programs organized for demobilized youth in his neighborhood. He agreed that Mr. Kordo, a.k.a. Dunji Mandro Konke, provided training for demobilized youth, but insisted none were under the age of 15. Under further questioning, the witness admitted he had never been to a training camp and it was possible underage youth were at training camps other than Mandro which was near his home.

In an effort to suggest the witness’s loyalty to the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) may have affected his truthfulness, Ms. Samson proposed that because he and his family were forced to flee in 2002 and 2003 and were able to return home in May 2003 after Bunia was recaptured by the UPC, he must have been grateful to the group. The witness responded that everyone was happy at the “liberation” of the town by the UPC, the group Mr. Lubanga led. Since January 2009, Mr. Lubanga has been on trial at the ICC over the recruitment, conscription and use of children under the age of 15 in armed conflict.

The remainder of testimony was given in private session.

The trial is scheduled to resume Monday morning, April 18, 2011.