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Lubanga Appeals Witnesses to Testify on May 19 and 20

The hearing of the testimony of ‘Witness D-0040’ and ‘Witness D-0041’ in support of Thomas Lubanga’s appeals at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been rescheduled to take place on May 19 and 20, 2014.

During the hearings, the two individuals who are expected to testify via video link from an undisclosed location will be questioned by Mr. Lubanga’s lawyers first, followed by the prosecutor. Thereafter, appeals judges will put questions to the witnesses and the defense will have the opportunity to conduct redirect examination.

The hearing is also expected to serve as an opportunity for parties and participants to make oral submissions and observations before appeals judges. Before the closure of the hearing, Mr. Lubanga is expected to address the chamber.

In 2012,  judges found Mr. Lubanga guilty of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and actively using them in an armed conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2002 and 2003. Mr. Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment, but he was only expected to serve eight years because, at the time of sentencing, he had been in the court’s custody for about six years.

Mr. Lubanga has appealed against both the conviction and the sentence. He was granted permission to call two witnesses as part of his appeals. They were initially expected to testify on April 14 and 15. However, due to undisclosed logistical challenges, the hearing was postponed.

In the April 30, 2014 rescheduling order, appeals judges rejected an application by legal representatives of victims to question the two witnesses. Judges considered that their request did not identify any personal interests of the victims they represent. However, should an issue affecting the personal interests of participating victims arise during specific parts of the testimony by the two witnesses, the victims’ lawyers may make an oral request to question the witnesses.

Regarding the conduct of questioning of the witnesses, the defense was directed not to use leading questions for “contentious topics” and to “confine” its questioning to the issues for which Mr. Lubanga sought to admit the evidence of the witnesses on appeal. Meanwhile, prosecutors may only examine the witnesses on matters related to their testimony and its reliability, as well as on the credibility of the witnesses and other relevant matters.

In their order, judges also ruled that parties should notify the chamber of the material they intend to use during the questioning of the witnesses, in advance of the hearing.