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Lubanga Defence Continue to Focus on Intermediaries
As the Lubanga trial resumes, the question of payments made to intermediaries ta
ke centre stage again.
By Wairagala Wakabi - International Justice - ICC
ACR Issue 275,
1 Nov 10
The trial of alleged Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga resumed at the Internation
al Criminal Court, ICC, last week, with the role played by intermediaries of the
court’s prosecution office still the focus of defence questioning.
The trial had been suspended in July, after judges ruled that the prosecutor had
failed to follow proper procedures in refusing to disclose the identity of a ke
y witness to the defence team.
But on October 8, the appeals chamber ruled that the trial could continue, sayin
g that judges had been wrong to stay proceedings without first imposing sanction
s to force the prosecution to comply.
Early in the week, a field liaison officer with the Office of The Prosecutor, OT
P, was questioned by defence lawyers about payments made to intermediaries who c
ontacted former child soldiers that testified against Lubanga.
In particular, lead defence lawyer Catherine Mabille asked the witness, who test
ified with voice and face distortion, about payments allegedly made to an interm
ediary known simply as Mr X.
The witness said the money he gave Mr X was to cater for the transportation of f
ormer child soldiers who were brought to the field liaison officer for screening
. He said all payments to the intermediary were authorised by OTP investigators
or supervisors based at The Hague.
Mabille also asked about a complaint that Mr X subsequently made about the alleg
ed misconduct of OTP investigators.
“Did someone from MONUC [the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, since renamed
MONUSCO] call you and tell you that Mr X had made a complaint about the behavio
ur of the ICC with regard to him?” she asked.
“We had heard that Mr X had approached MONUC in order to complain,” the witness repl
ied. “Mr X had made complaints… about the way the ICC was operating and in particula
r what he considered certain dysfunctions.” The witness, who testified via video l
ink, gave details of this complaint in closed session.
In response to Mabille’s question, the witness said he was not aware of any financ
ial claims by intermediaries being considered unjustified by the OTP.
However, he stated that at some point his supervisors instructed him not to deal
with Mr X because he was no longer an intermediary.
Similar instructions were given about another intermediary who was referred to i
n court as Mr Z. The witness did not say in open court why these individuals cea
sed being intermediaries.
The witness testified that he screened several children who had served as soldie
rs with the militia group the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, in a bid to find
those who fitted the profile the OTP was looking for. The UPC is the group that
prosecutors allege Lubanga headed.
While referring to several documents, including screening notes and email exchan
ges between the liaison officer and his OTP supervisors, Mabille asked the witne
ss why several of the children he had been asked to screen eventually got left o
She also asked about discrepancies between lists of children which Mr X had and
those prosecution investigators provided to the witness.
“Sometimes he [Mr X] would have to go to the field to look for one child or anothe
r and then he would call to tell me that such and such a child is not available,
or cannot be found,” the witness replied.
At one time, all 16 children who were due to be screened could not be traced, th
e witness added.
While the witness affirmed that he had screened some particular children that Ma
bille asked about, all subsequent examination was in closed session.
It was therefore not possible to know what the interest of the defence was in th
ese particular individuals.
Hearings had been scheduled for every day last week, but some administrative gli
tches forced presiding judge Adrian Fulford to end the week’s testimony on Tuesday
One of the intermediaries – known as intermediary 321 - was expected to give evide
nce last week via video link from the DRC. But the court heard that, due to a mi
scommunication, he had travelled to The Hague instead.
This witness had previously testified in July, just before judges ordered a halt
to the trial.
Prosecuting attorney Manoj Sachdeva said intermediary 321 would testify this wee
k, after the witness indicated he needed five days to familiarise himself with t
he testimony he gave last July as well the interviews he did with prosecutors si
nce last October.
Judge Fulford said that none of the other witnesses were ready to testify last w
One of the witnesses had been unable to travel to The Hague because his passport
was not ready, the judge said.
At the bidding of judges, the OTP will also produce at least one other intermedi
ary and two of its investigators who worked on gathering evidence against Lubang
a. One of the investigators will testify next via video link.
Lubanga’s trial began in January last year, although he has been in ICC detention
since March 2006. He is accused of enlisting, conscripting and using child soldi
ers in armed conflict during 2002 and 2003 when he allegedly headed the UPC and
its armed militia.
IWPR s weekly updates of the Thomas Lubanga trial are produced in cooperation wi
th the Open Society Justice Initiative of the Open Society Institute, OSI. Daily
coverage of the trial can be found at http://www.lubangatrial.org/.