The trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC) resumes on May 3, 2011. Last Friday, presiding judge Sylvia Steiner adjourned the trial when all the witnesses who had been scheduled to testify during April completed giving their evidence.
The-Hague-based court will this Thursday break for the spring recess, which ends on May 2. Since the commencement of Mr. Bemba’s trial last November, the prosecution has called 18 witnesses, including three experts: on linguistics, rape as a weapon of war, and post-traumatic stress disorder among Central African rape survivors.
The prosecution has said it will call 40 witnesses in total to testify against Mr. Bemba, who stands accused of failing to control his soldiers, who allegedly carried out mass rapes, killings and looting in the Central African Republic (CAR) during 2002 and 2003.
Mr. Bemba has denied the charges, claiming that once his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops entered into the CAR, they fell under the command of then CAR president Ange-Félix Patassé. The Congolese troops went to the neighboring country to help Mr. Patassé fight off a coup attempt. At the time of Mr. Patassé’s death earlier this month, ICC prosecutors were still investigating his possible culpability for war crimes and crimes against humanity related to the eight-year conflict in his country.