Search Results for: bemba

ICC Finds Jean-Pierre Bemba, Four Others Guilty of Witness Tampering

Official Opening of the Permanent Premises of the International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court
Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

In its first decision concerning witness tampering, Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and four others guilty of offenses against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute. [ICC Press Release: Guilty] The holding of October 19 found that Bemba and the four other accused had bribed witnesses and presented false evidence to the Court in relation to Bemba’s prosecution before the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity. [ICC Press Release: Guilty] Bemba, who was sentenced to 18 years’ imprisonment in that earlier trial, remains in custody while the others are out on conditional release pending sentencing. [ICC Press Release: Sentencing] While this is the first decision from the ICC on witness tampering, other cases involving similar charges are pending before the Court. [International Justice Monitor; IJRC] Read more

ICC Convicts Bemba of War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity

800px-Netherlands,_The_Hague,_International_Criminal_Court

The International Criminal Court
Credit: Vincent van Zeijst

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his role as leader of a rebel group based in the Democratic Republic of Congo whose troops carried out attacks in neighboring Central African Republic (CAR), in support of that country’s former president. See ICC, Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, ICC-01/05-01/08, Judgment pursuant to Article 74 of the Statute, 21 March 2016, para. 752. The Court found that Mr. Bemba had not taken reasonable measures within his power to prevent the crimes against the civilian population in CAR in 2002 and 2003. [ICC Press Release] The March 21st ruling in Mr. Bemba’s case establishes two key precedents: it is the first time the ICC has focused on sexual violence as a weapon of war and it is the first time that a commanding officer has been held liable for the actions of subordinate soldiers, absent directly ordering the behavior. [UN News Centre; New York Times]  The judgment comes days before the ICC confirmed charges against two other suspects, accused of crimes against humanity and war crimes in Uganda and Mali, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia’s conviction and sentencing of Radovan Karadžić to 40 years’ imprisonment for his role in the Srebrenica massacre. Read more

ICC Initiates Witness Tampering Prosecution of Jean-Pierre Bemba & Others

On 29 September 2015, the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido opened before Trial Chamber VII at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido are accused of offences against the administration of justice in connection with witnesses' testimonies in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. Credit: ICC
On 29 September 2015, the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido opened before Trial Chamber VII at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido are accused of offences against the administration of justice in connection with witnesses' testimonies in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. Credit: ICC

Opening of the trial in The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo et al. on September 29, 2015.
Credit: ICC

On September 29, 2015 the International Criminal Court (ICC) commenced its first trial concerning allegations of witness tampering, in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo et al. [ICC Press Release: Prosecutor’s Statement; The Guardian] Jean-Pierre Bemba Gomba, former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and four other defendants are charged with offenses to the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute, including presenting false evidence and bribing witnesses to provide false testimony, in connection with the pending ICC case in which Mr. Bemba was prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic. [ICC Press Release: Bemba et al.; The Guardian]

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda emphasized that witness tampering impedes the Office of the Prosecutor’s ability to conduct a fair trial, ensure victims’ access to justice, and maintain the integrity of the ICC. [ICC Press Release: Prosecutor’s Statement] A briefing paper by the Open Society Justice Initiative also noted the difficulty of litigating parallel cases before the ICC, especially with respect to evidentiary matters. See Open Society Justice Initiative, The Trial of Bemba et al. before the International Criminal Court (2015), 6. Witness tampering has also impeded the Office of the Prosecutor’s ability to conduct an impartial investigation with respect to cases concerning Kenya. [ICC Press Release: Kenyan Situation] Read more

Four Arrested for Witness Tampering in International Criminal Court Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba

Jean-Pierre BembaCredit: ICC

Jean-Pierre Bemba
Credit: ICC

On November 23 and 24, four individuals were arrested on charges of corruptly influencing witnesses in the International Criminal Court (ICC) case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (ICC-01/05-01/08). [ICC Press Release: Bemba Case]  The accused, together with Jean-Pierre Bemba, are alleged to have procured false evidence and testimony in Mr. Bemba’s trial on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Read more

ICC Acquits Former Ivory Coast President of Crimes Against Humanity

Laurent Gbagbo at the International Criminal Court
Credit: ICC via Flickr

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was acquitted of crimes against humanity earlier this month when the International Criminal Court (ICC) found insufficient evidence of a common plan or policy to attack civilians during the 2010-2011 post-election violence in the Ivory Coast. See ICC, Prosecutor v. Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé, ICC-02/11-01/15, Oral Decision of Trial Chamber I on the Prosecutor’s Request under Article 81(3)(c)(i) of the Rome Statute, 16 January 2019. The ICC Appeals Chamber has decided Gbagbo and his co-defendant Charles Blé Goudé must remain in custody at least until it reviews the Trial Chamber I’s order to release them, at a hearing scheduled for February 1. [ICC Press Release: Delay] Once the Trial Chamber’s written judgment is filed, the Office of the Prosecutor may appeal the acquittals. [ICC Press Release: Acquittal] ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has confirmed her office will continue its investigations into the Ivory Coast situation, which currently includes pre-trial proceedings against Simone Gbagbo, wife of Laurent Gbagbo, who was granted amnesty for her role in the conflict by current Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara last year. [ICC: Bensouda; Guardian: Simone Gbagbo; BBC]

The Gbagbo judgment is the most recent in a line of prominent losses by the ICC Prosecutor, including the acquittal, on appeal, of former Congolese Vice-President Jean-Pierre Bemba in 2018 and the Court’s dismissal of charges of crimes against humanity against Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and Vice-President William Ruto in 2015 and 2016, respectively. [IJRC: KenyaIJMonitor: Gbagbo; IJMonitor: Bemba] The ICC Prosecution’s recent failures have raised concerns among some about the Court’s ability to hold accountable those individuals who violate international criminal law. [IJRC: YekatomGuardian: ICC; Guardian: Gbagbo] Gbagbo, the first former head of State to be taken into ICC custody, has the right to request compensation for the seven years that he has spent in detention. See Rome Statute, art. 85(3). Read more

Suspected War Criminal Arrested in Central African Republic, Transferred to ICC

Alfred Yekatom makes first appearance before the ICC
Credit: ICC-CPI via Flickr

Alfred Yekatom, the first person to be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with the Court’s investigation into crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2012, made an initial appearance before the Court’s Pre-Trial Chamber II on November 23. [ICC Press Release: Alfred; FIDH] Mr. Yekatom is alleged to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity between December 2013 and August 2014 in the context of the CAR’s ongoing conflict between the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka armed groups. [ICC Press Release: Yekatom] Yekatom is accused of having commanded an anti-balaka group that carried out killings, torture, forced displacement of Muslim civilians and looting and destruction of Muslim homes and places of worship, in western CAR. CAR authorities delivered Yekatom to the ICC on November 17 in compliance with the ICC’s November 11 warrant for his arrest. [ICC Press Release: Situation] On April 30, 2019, the Court will hold a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations against him and, if so, to transfer his case to the Trial Chamber. [ICC Press Release: Yekatom]

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ICC Issues Sentences for Witness Tampering, Orders Payment of Reparations

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo at the International Criminal Court
Credit: ICC

Last week, in two separate cases, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first decision on sentences for witness tampering and first order for a convicted war criminal to pay reparations to victims. A chamber of the ICC delivered a decision on March 22 regarding the sentences of five convicted individuals in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, et al. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity in March of last year and was convicted of another charge – offenses against the administration of justice – in October 2016, along with members of his legal team. In last week’s decision, the Court added a year to Bemba’s existing 18-year sentence for witness tampering. [IJRC: Bemba] See ICC, The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido, ICC-01/05-01/13, Decision on Sentence pursuant to Article 76 of the Statute, 22 March 2017. Another chamber of the Court issued an order on March 24 awarding collective and individual reparations to 297 victims of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by Germain Katanga in 2003 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The ICC ordered Katanga to pay each victim 250 dollars. See ICC, The Prosecutor v. Germain, ICC-01/04-01/07, Decision on Reparations pursuant to Article 75 of the Statute, 24 March 2017 (available in French). The March 24 decision marks the first time the ICC has ordered a convicted war criminal to pay reparations to victims. Read more

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