International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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

Leave a comment

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

3 Comments

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

3 Comments

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

2 Comments

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

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

Closing Arguments in Bemba Trial Set For October

Trial judges have set an October 2014 date for the closing arguments in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

In a May 26 ruling, judges Sylvia Steiner, Joyce Aluoch, and Kuniko Ozaki also decided that should Mr. Bemba be found guilty, they would issue separate decision on his sentence.

In the event of a conviction, the prosecution, the defense, and victims’ lawyer will file written requests to submit further evidence or to call witnesses, including any requests for protective measures for the witnesses, within two weeks of the issuance of the judgment.

Mr. Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been on trial in The Hague since November 2010. He is accused of failing … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Bemba’s Former Lawyer Wants ICC Judge Off Evidence Tampering Case

Aimé Kilolo-Musamba, a lawyer who previously represented Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC), is seeking the disqualification of the pre-trial judge handling his case of alleged evidence tampering.

In a May 1, 2014 request to the presidency of the court, Mr. Kilolo’s lawyers alleged that Judge Cuno Tarfusser had issued “unorthodox and legally unsubstantiated judicial mandates” that overwhelmingly favored the Office of the Prosecutor, rendering the judge “a Second Prosecutor.”

Ghislain Mabanga, who is representing Mr. Kilolo, also pointed to the judge’s alleged haste in issuing the arrest warrant for his client and four co-accused. He accused the judge of actions and language “manifestly contravening the presumption of innocence and instead implying guilt.”

Mr. Mabanga said Judge Tarfusser “personally” involved himself in the investigation … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

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