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New Witness Testifies In Closed Session

The prosecution in the trial of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba today called its 15th witness since the start of the trial last November. However, all of the evidence by the witness was heard in closed session.

The name of today’s witness was not given in open court. Before the conclusion of yesterday’s proceedings, Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner announced that the bench would issue an oral ruling on protective measures for the upcoming witness in closed session. She referrd to this witness as ‘Witness 75’ but did not say anything further about the identity of the witness.

Most of the witnesses in trials conducted so far at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have testified with protective measures including voice and face distortion as well as the use of pseudonyms. These measures are intended to protect witnesses against possible reprisal attacks if their identities were known to the public.

Mr. Bemba, the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), is on trial at The Hague-based court for the alleged rape, murder, and plunder committed by his troops against civilians of the Central African Republic (CAR) during the 2002-2003 conflict.

The trial is scheduled to continue tomorrow morning.