International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Presentation of Evidence Ends in Bemba’s Trial

After nearly three and a half years, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have declared that the submission of evidence in the trial of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba’s has come to an end.

In an April 7, 2014 ruling, the prosecution and the victims’ lawyer were directed to file their closing briefs by June 2, 2014. The defense was asked to state whether it was still interested in receiving a French translation of the prosecution’s closing brief before making its submissions.

Judges previously ruled that the defense would file its closing brief within  12 weeks of receiving the submissions of the prosecution and victims’ lawyer because they would have to be translated for the bilingual defense team.

The evidence admitted in the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Judges Reject Prosecution Bid to Submit Witness Tampering Evidence against Bemba

Evidence relating to alleged witness tampering by Jean-Pierre Bemba will not be admitted into the case record of his ongoing war crimes trial. Trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have ruled that admitting that material is not appropriate at the current stage of proceedings.

In an April 2, 2014 order, judges Sylvia Steiner, Joyce Aluoch, and Kuniko Ozaki said the evidence, including an audio recording, a report, and a financial chart, were part of material in a separate case brought before the ICC.

“The chamber does not consider it in the interest of justice for matters which may be central to the charges before the pre-trial chamber to be litigated in parallel before the trial chamber,” the judges ruled. They … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Prosecutor Ordered to Disclose Informant’s Emails to Bemba

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor has been ordered to disclose to defense lawyers information provided by an anonymous informant on a witness bribery scheme purportedly run by Jean-Pierre Bemba.

However, in the ruling, issued on March 27, Judge Cuno Tarfusser ordered that any information which could lead to the identification of the unnamed individual should be withheld from the material handed over.

“It is necessary and appropriate that any and all information possibly leading to his or her identification (in particular, names and pseudonyms, email addresses, locations and travelling plans) be redacted,” he said.

Last month, Mr Bemba’s lawyers asked judges for permission to obtain information that would help to identify the informant whose tip off led to charges of witness bribery … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Judge Grants Prosecutor More Time to Prepare New Case Against Bemba

An International Criminal Court (ICC) pre-trial judge has granted the prosecution’s request for an extension of deadlines for confirmation of charges proceedings against Jean-Pierre Bemba and his four co-accused.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser ruled that prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request was justified because of a delay of the final report by an independent counsel, who reviewed evidence from the accused individuals’ intercepted communications.

The judge said the independent counsel’s final report was complete but still under judicial review by Dutch authorities, who were unlikely to transmit it to the court before May 2014.

“The availability of the final report to the parties and to the court appears of essence to the determinations to be made by the chamber,” he said.

However, Judge Tarfusser said the prosecution’s … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Bemba Witness Appears Before ICC Judge on Evidence Tampering Charges

Narcisse Arido, who had earlier been expected to testify in Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial, appeared before an International Criminal Court (ICC) judge today to answer to charges of witness tampering.

Mr. Arido said he was born in Bangui in the Central African Republic (CAR) and has been living in Cameroon since 2001. He described himself as a lawyer by profession and currently a “political refugee.”

Xavier-Jean Keita, who represented Mr. Arido, said “irregularities” had occurred following the suspect’s arrest by French authorities last November. He said his client was denied contact with his family for longer than a week. “This is not something that ICC law allows,” said Mr. Keita.

The lawyer also said three individuals claiming to be from the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Bemba’s Co-Accused Narcisse Arido Transferred to the ICC

Congolese national Narcisse Arido, who is accused of participating in witness tampering together with war crimes accused Jean-Pierre Bemba, has today been transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Mr. Arido, who was arrested in France last November, was transferred to the court after a French appellate court rejected his appeal against extradition. He is due to make his initial appearance before an ICC pre-trial judge on Thursday, March 20.

Prosecutors claim that Mr. Arido received payments from two of Mr. Bemba’s former lawyers to provide false or forged documents and that he was an intermediary in transferring money to witnesses.

The lawyers, former lead counsel Aimé Kilolo-Musamba and case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, have been in custody at the … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Prosecutor Asks For More Time to Prepare New Case Against Bemba

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has requested an extension of deadlines for confirmation of charges proceedings against Jean-Pierre Bemba and his four aides, who are acused of forging evidence and bribing witnesses in the ongoing trial of Mr. Bemba.

With less than two weeks to the deadline for her to submit the Document Containing Charges (DCC) and the list of evidence, Ms. Bensouda said she needed four more months to assemble evidence that could enable her to enter the confirmation process in a ‘trial ready’ posture.

In a March 5, 2014 filing, the prosecutor said she had not yet accessed most of the items seized from the accused upon their arrest last November. This evidence, she said, most of it … Continue Reading

1 Comment

Bemba’s Lawyer Seeks to Interview Anonymous Prosecution Informant

Jean-Pierre Bemba’s lawyers have asked International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to permit them to obtain information that will help to identify the unnamed informant who tipped off the prosecution that the Congolese politician was bribing witnesses.

In a February 20, 2014 filing, defense lawyer Nicholas Kaufman said he needed to contact and interview the individual in order to check the veracity of the information he provided.

He said the informant’s actions may have been politically motivated, or he could be connected to witnesses who will testify for the prosecution.

“Alternatively, it is more than feasible that the anonymous informant could possess information which could exonerate the suspect,” stated Mr. Kaufman, who is representing Mr. Bemba in the new case.

Last November, charges of witness … Continue Reading

1 Comment

Lawyer Asks Judges to Bar Prosecutor From Contacting Bemba’s Witnesses

Jean-Pierre Bemba’s lawyers have asked International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to bar prosecutors from contacting witnesses who testified in support of the Congolese opposition leader. They argued that this was to ensure the safety and security of individuals, including those “actively serving in extremely sensitive operations.”

In a February 12, 2014 filing, the lawyers said if the prosecutor contacted the witnesses and asked if they lied in their testimonies, it might cause confusion and fear among individuals who had understood that their association with the court was over.

“These witnesses have also previously been informed that they had no obligation to meet with or talk to the prosecution, and that any contact would not occur without their consent,” said lead defense counsel … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Lawyer Asks Judges to End Monitoring of Bemba’s Communications

The defense for Jean-Pierre Bemba has asked judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to order a stop to the monitoring and recording of privileged communications between Mr. Bemba and his lawyers.

“It is impossible for members of the current team to continue to represent Mr. Bemba without the ability to take instructions and provide advice in a confidential setting,” submitted Peter Haynes in a February 6, 2014 filing.

He asked judges to order a stop to monitoring of all communications, including phone conversations, meetings at the detention center where Mr. Bemba is being held, and the holding cell at the ICC premises. Furthermore, he asked judges to order the court’s registry, the prosecution, and national authorities not to monitor the communications … Continue Reading

Leave a comment