International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Bemba’s Lawyer, Aides Released From ICC Detention

Today, Jean-Pierre Bemba’s former lead defense lawyer and two associates were released from International Criminal Court (ICC) detention. The trio, along with another former lawyer to the Congolese opposition leader, had been held in The Hague for nearly a year on accusations of bribing witnesses and forging evidence.

According to a statement from the court, defense lawyer Aimé Kilolo Musamba was released in Belgium, Bemba’s former chief of staff Fidèle Babala Wandu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and defense witness Narcisse Arido in France. Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, who was Mr. Bemba’s case manager at the time of his arrest, will be released as soon as the ICC Registry finalized all the necessary arrangements.

On Tuesday this week, pre-trial judge Cuno Tarfusser … Continue Reading

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Recalled Witness in Bemba Trial to Testify in Closed Session

All testimony by a prosecution witness who was recalled by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to give evidence on issues of witness credibility in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba will be heard in closed session.

“The testimony of Witness 169 will be heard in full closed session,” announced Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner at the start of hearings this morning. The witness is scheduled to testify over three days until Friday 24.

Judge Steiner explained that the court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) conducted a security assessment to determine if the protective measures that were in place for the witness during his initial appearance before the court should remain in force. Based on the assessment, judges did not consider it necessary to alter the … Continue Reading

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Judge Orders Interim Release of Bemba Lawyers

An International Criminal Court (ICC) judge has ordered the release of the former head of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba’s defense team, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, and former case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo.

The lawyers, who have been in detention in The Hague for nearly a year, were arrested following accusations of corruptly influencing witnesses and presenting forged evidence before the court.

Pre-trial chamber judge Cuno Tarfusser also ordered the release of Congolese Member of Parliament Fidèle Babala-Wandu and defense witness Narcisse Arido.

Release of the quartet is conditional upon the court’s registry ensuring they indicate the addresses at which they will be staying and sign personal commitments to appear when summoned. The suspects could remain in detention if the prosecution successfully appeals for … Continue Reading

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Hearing of Recalled Prosecution Witness in Bemba Trial Postponed

The hearing scheduled for this week to consider additional evidence from a witness who previously testified for the prosecution in Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial has been cancelled due to undisclosed logistical reasons.

‘Witness 169’ was recalled by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to testify about allegations of collusion between prosecution witnesses and the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). It is alleged that the OTP made payments to witnesses in exchange for their testimony. The witness had been scheduled to testify at the seat of the court on October 14 and 15. However, court officials said today that logistical difficulties had prompted the postponement of the hearing. New dates would be confirmed in due course.

On October 2, 2014, judges issued a notice temporarily reopening the presentation of … Continue Reading

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Bemba Trial: Prosecution Witness Recalled to Testify About Payments

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have reopened the presentation of evidence in Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial in order to hear the testimony of a prosecution witness on issues of witness credibility.

‘Witness 169′ is expected to testify at the seat of the court in The Hague on October 14, 2014 on alleged collusion between prosecution witnesses that may impact the probative value or credibility of their testimony and promises made or benefits provided by the prosecution in exchange for their testimony.

According to an October 2, 2014 notice, judges Sylvia Steiner (presiding), Joyce Aluoch, and Kuniko Ozaki decided to recall this witness following a request by the defense after the prosecution disclosed a document related to this witness. The defense had sought the recall … Continue Reading

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ICC Prosecutor Opens New Central African Investigation

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has opened a new investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) since 2012. Earlier investigations conducted in the country led to the indictment of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who has been on trial at the court based in The Hague since November 2010.

In a statement issued on September 24, 2014, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that the new investigation was warranted based on information from “reliable sources” indicating that the Séléka and the anti-Balaka groups had committed crimes against humanity and war crimes including murder, rape, forced displacement, persecution, pillaging, attacks against humanitarian missions and the use of child soldiers in combat.

“The list of atrocities is endless. I cannot ignore … Continue Reading

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Judge Orders Prosecutor to Provide Details of Payments to Witnesses in Bemba Trial

The single pre-trial judge handling the witness tampering case against Jean-Pierre Bemba and four others has directed the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to provide details of all reimbursements that were made to prosecution witnesses in Mr. Bemba’s ongoing war crimes trial.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser directed prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to provide this information to the chamber by August 4, 2014. The order followed a request by lawyers for Mr. Aimé Kilolo-Musamba – the former lead counsel for Mr. Bemba, who is now one of five individuals accused of bribing witnesses and presenting forged testimony before the ICC.

On June 27, 2014, Mr. Kilolo’s lawyers asked the judge to order the prosecutor to provide to them information they said was critical to his … Continue Reading

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Bemba’s Co-Accused to Remain in ICC Custody

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) last Friday dismissed the appeals of Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo against the pre-trial chamber decision rejecting their request for interim release. The three, along with Jean-Pierre Bemba, are accused of presenting forged evidence and corruptly influencing witnesses in Mr. Bemba’s ongoing war crimes trial before the court.

In a decision issued in an open court hearing on July 11, 2014, a panel of five judges by majority ruled that “no appealable errors have been identified” in the ruling by Judge Cuno Tarfusser for the continued detention of the three suspects. The panel was presided over by Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng.

Judges Anita Ušacka and Erkki Kourula dissented, stating … Continue Reading

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Judges’ Plenary Declines to Disqualify Judge Tarfusser From New Bemba Case

The International Criminal Court (ICC) plenary of judges has declined a defense request to disqualify Judge Cuno Tarfusser from handling the pre-trial phase of the new case against Jean-Pierre Bemba, his two former lawyers, and two aides.

“Distinguishing between allegations relating to the interpretation of the law by the Judge and allegations relating to the conduct of the Judge in the proceedings, the Plenary unanimously dismissed the Applications,” a decision issued on June 23, 2014 reads. The judges found that none of the arguments put forward by the defense teams of four of the accused persons “substantiated any allegations of bias, or the appearance thereof.”

In seeking Judge Tarfusser’s disqualification, defense teams argued that he had issued “unorthodox and legally unsubstantiated judicial … Continue Reading

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Schedule on Confirmation of New Charges Against Bemba Pushed Back

The schedule for confirmation of charges proceedings against Jean-Pierre Bemba and his four co-accused has been further extended due to the late submission of an independent counsel’s report on the intercepted communications of the suspects.

“Since the independent Counsel’s third and final report was made available to the parties almost four weeks later than expected, at the time of the first amendment decision, it is appropriate that the calendar for the confirmation of charges in writing be accordingly amended,” Judge Cuno Tarfusser ruled on May 28.

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors now have until June 30 to file the document containing the charges (DCC) and lists of evidence against the Congolese politician, two lawyers who formerly represented him in his ongoing war … Continue Reading

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