The trial of Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has so far this week been conducted in closed session while hearing the testimony of two prosecution witnesses.
Yesterday, Witness P877, who first took the stand last Friday, concluded his testimony with the cross-examination closed to the public. Similarly, a witness giving evidence under the pseudonym Witness P018 has testified in closed session yesterday and today.
Prior to the start of the prosecution’s questioning of Witness P018 on Monday afternoon, Presiding Judge Robert Fremr announced that judges had granted her guarantees not to reveal any of her identifying information, and in case of such a risk, hearings would move into private session.
Earlier on June 22, judges ruled that there was “an objectively justifiable risk with respect to the Witness’s security and wellbeing, warranting the shielding of her identity from the public.” The judges’ decision came after a June 1 prosecution request for special protective measures “in view of the specific needs of this witness.”
In addition to the use of a pseudonym and image and voice distortion during re-broadcast of her testimony, prosecutors requested that undisclosed evidence from Witness P018 be elicited in closed session. Prosecutors also requested regular breaks during questioning of the witness and that “questions be adapted to her needs and capabilities.” Furthermore, the prosecution suggested that the witness should be assisted in the courtroom by an official from the Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU).
Ntaganda, a former Congolese rebel leader, is on trial at the ICC for 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed by himself and his soldiers during 2002 and 2003 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ituri district.
Witness P018 is scheduled to continue her testimony tomorrow morning.