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Ntaganda Judges Admit Expert Witness Testimony Given in Lubanga Trial

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges who are trying Bosco Ntaganda have accepted into evidence the testimony which expert witness Roberto Garretón—also known as Witness P-0931—gave in the trial of Thomas Lubanga.

Garretón, a former Special Rapporteur for the United Nations Commission for Human Rights on human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), appeared as an expert witness on September 28, 2015, but was only questioned for one hour. The prosecution had asked judges to admit the prior recorded testimony of the former rapporteur from the Lubanga trial.

Ntaganda’s lawyers did not oppose the prosecution’s suggestion but they opposed the exclusion of one specific excerpt of transcript from the material to be admitted. They also argued that it was necessary for the prosecution to ask Witness P-0931 only general and short questions.

Pursuant to Rule 68(3) of the court’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence, judges may allow the introduction of the prior recorded testimony of a witness who is present before the chamber if the individual does not object and if both parties and the chamber have an opportunity to examine the witness.

In handling the prosecution’s application, judges noted that Rule 68(3) of the Rules constitutes an exception to the principle of primarily relying on oral testimony before the court. The judges also noted that they needed to take a cautious, case-by-case assessment and consider the impact of any such request on the rights of an accused and the fairness of the proceedings. Furthermore, the judges noted that the introduction of evidence under Rule 68(3) had the potential to significantly enhance the expeditiousness of the proceedings.

After he took the witness stand, the prosecution and defense questioned Garretón for about 30 minutes each. Garretón consented to his prior recorded testimony from the Lubanga trial being admitted as evidence in the Ntaganda case.

Garretón’s testimony related to ethnic fighting in the DRC’s Ituri district, and other contextual information on the conflict. The war crimes and crimes against humanity which Ntaganda is charged with were allegedly committed in Ituri during 2002 and 2003.

The prosecution has so far called three witnesses in the Ntaganda trial. Witness P-0901, a former member of the militia of the UPC in which Ntaganda was the deputy chief of staff, completed his testimony on September 25.

The next witness will commence his testimony in mid-October.