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Judges Grant Request for Medical Examination of Prosecution Witness

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have ordered that a witness who testified at the court should undergo medical tests to verify injuries he claims were inflicted upon him by soldiers from war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda’s group. The examination will aim to establish whether the alleged injuries are consistent with the testimony of the witness about the  location of the injury, its cause, and approximate date when it occurred.

During his testimony at the end of last month, Witness P790 said he was shot by soldiers belonging to the Union for Congolese Patriots (UPC), during an attack on the Congolese town of Kobu.

According to the defense, whether or not the witness was shot by UPC soldiers “is an important aspect of the prosecution’s case” and an issue that strikes at the core of Witness P790’s credibility.” While requesting judges to order a medical examination of the witnesses, the defense argued that no evidence expected to be presented by the prosecution was likely to corroborate Witness P790’s testimony in relation to the injury he claims to have suffered.

The defense argued that independent medical expertise was the only way to corroborate this testimony. During his cross-examination, Witness P790 indicated a willingness to undergo a medical examination to verify the injuries he suffered.

In the January 27, 2016 order granting the defense request, judges appointed Dr. Pierre Perich to conduct the examination. The court’s Registry recommended Dr. Perich to the chamber based on his specialization, qualifications, experience, availability, location, and language.

Prosecutors and victims’ lawyers did not oppose to the defense’s request.  The judges directed that relevant transcripts of Witness P790’s in-court testimony be provided to the expert. They also ruled that, should the witness consent, his legal representative should be allowed to attend the medical examination.

The expert’s report is expected to be filed by Monday, February 15. It will be communicated to judges and victims’ lawyers first. Thereafter, and “in light of the information contained within,” judges will decide on the procedures for transmission to parties and participants in the trial.

Ntaganda, the former deputy chief of staff of the UPC militia, is on trial over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during 2002 and 2003. At the time, the UPC was one of the militia groups involved in an ethnic conflict in Congo’s Ituri province.