Defence Ask to Share Information

Lawyers want judge to allow them to share case details with Katanga defence team.

Defence Ask to Share Information

Lawyers want judge to allow them to share case details with Katanga defence team.

Monday, 22 February, 2010
The defence team for alleged Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga has asked judges to grant them permission to exchange information with lawyers for alleged former militia leader Germain Katanga, also on trial at the International Criminal Court, ICC.

Speaking on February 17, Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, one of Lubanga's lawyers, told judges that there were four witnesses common to the two trials about whom the defence teams want to meet and share information.

“The defence has to share information about these witnesses,” she said. “It is our right and we need to do so... This will only help in the establishment of the truth.”

Lubanga is the former head of the Union of Congolese Patriots, UPC, a militia group. He is accused of enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, during 2002 and 2003.

The indictment against Katanga states that he is the former head of the Patriotic Resistance Force, FRPI, a rival militia group that waged war against the UPC. He is charged alongside Mathieu Ngudjolo with ten counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Katanga's and Ngudjolo's charges relate to February 2003, when they allegedly launched an attack on the Ituri village of Bogoro, which was at the time occupied by UPC soldiers. The attack left 200 people dead and destroyed much of the village.

Prosecutor Nicole Samson objected to the sharing of information between the two cases, on the grounds that this could violate restrictions on who can access the information concerning the individual cases.

“It is possible that, in the course of their exchanges, the information that is otherwise protected in one case is revealed, not intentionally, in the other case,” she said.

Samson added that there would be no means of monitoring this communication.

But Judge Adrian Fulford noted that barring defence teams from speaking to each other would be a denial of their rights to free speech and association, and could impede the preparation of their cases.

Judges said they would make a ruling after obtaining submissions on the precise restrictions that have been placed on the disclosure of information in the two trials.

During the course of the week, two defence witnesses were called to testify. But both gave their evidence in closed session, providing no indication of their identities or on the issues they testified about.

On February 18, Judge Fulford said the Lubanga trial would now take a two-week break to allow defence lawyers to conduct “critical research”. Hearings will resume on March 3.

IWPR's weekly updates of the Thomas Lubanga trial are produced in cooperation with the Open Society Justice Initiative of the Open Society Institute, OSI. Daily coverage of the trial can be found at
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