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The Prosecution May Still Charge Witness 159 with Contempt

The prosecution called Witness 159 to testify in March 2010. The witness testified that he was present during the February 2003 attack on Bogoro.

He said, “The attack of February 2003 started at 5:00 in the morning. Nobody explained to me about this attack. These are events which I saw myself given that I was in Bogoro. I saw all these events with my own eyes from the very start to the very end. These weren’t things that were told to me.”

The witness followed with an incredibly detailed account of the attack and his movements during the fighting. In particular, he claimed that he saw Ngudjolo and Katanga in Bogoro the day of the attack, which both deny.

The prosecution later withdrew the witness’ testimony after it learned that the witness was not credible. The father and sister of Witness 159 refuted Witness 159’s claim that he was in Bogoro that day. Apparently, the father and sister were both in Bogoro on the day of the attack – but not Witness 159.

After a series of confidential submissions on the issue, the Trial Chamber decided that it would not rely on Witness 159’s testimony in its deliberations on the guilt of the accused.

The defense for Mathieu Ngudjolo also requested that the Court order the initiation of perjury proceedings against the witness. However, as the Court noted, starting such proceedings is completely at the discretion of the Prosecutor. The prosecution did not state definitively whether or not it would take action against Witness 159 until the Trial Chamber recently requested the prosecution to make a submission on this issue.

The prosecution submitted that it was “acutely sensitive to the need to protect the integrity of the Court’s proceedings” and would not hesitate to prosecute any witness for perjury, regardless of who called the witness to testify. However, the prosecution considered that this type of prosecution was best conducted after the main proceedings had concluded.

Therefore, although it has not taken concrete steps to prosecute Witness 159, this option has not been completely ruled out and could be pursued once the trial against Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo has concluded. Given the prosecution’s statement that it would wait for the final judgment in this case, it is likely that it would not proceed with such a case until after an appeal judgmen, which would most likely come some three years after the witness first testified in the case.