Lubanga Defense Witness Testifies for Third Day at the ICC

Lubanga defense witness Claude Nyeki Django testified for the third day that Thomas Lubanga’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) did not draft child soldiers.  The proceeding stopped for a time because Django broke down on the stand for a second time.  After meeting with a psychologist from the Victims and Witness Unit  (VWU) of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Django continued his testimony.  Curiously, Django said children voluntarily joined Lubanga’s army, which may not be a very good defense.  The public portions of Django’s testmony are recounted on Day One, Day Two and Day Three of his testimony.

Django’s testimony is essentially that he never served in the UPC, and was never in the armed forces at all, but was lured into a group who claimed that he had been a child soldier and he was portrayed as such by this group.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was the leader of the UPC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He was brought before the court in 2007, and is the first person to face trial at the ICC.  Lubanga’s trial commenced in January of 2009 and the defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  Lubanga is accused of conscripting, enlisting, and using child soldiers, which is a war crime.  This witnesses testimony appears directed at the idea of cosncripting child soldiers, though he appears to admit there were child soldiers present to his knowledge, which would appear bad for Lubanga on the charges of enlisting and using child soldiers.

The court sits as a three judge panel, who will have to determine at the close of the case if the Office of the Prosecutor has proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.  If they make a finding of guilt the trial will then move on to a reparations phase where the victims who have been granted leave to participate in the case will have an opportunity to seek reparations from the victims fund and from any assets of Lubanga’s.  The ICC is permanent court seated in The Hague, Netherlands to hear accusations of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, where the crimes are not likely or capable of being prosecuted by national authorities.

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