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Bemba Trial Resumes Next Week

The trial of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is scheduled to resume August 22 following a one month hiatus. A new schedule published by the court shows that the trial will be held Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The trial has been on a break since mid-July when court officials broke for the summer judicial recess. Since the start of the trial last November, the prosecution has called 25 of the 40 witnesses who are scheduled to testify against the former Congolese vice president.

Prosecutors at the ICC charge that Mr. Bemba’s troops raped, pillaged, and murdered civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR) during the 2002-2003 conflict and that Mr. Bemba as their commander-in-chief failed to restrain or sanction them. He has denied all five charges against him.

According to ICC deputy prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, most of the prosecution witness that are yet to testify are “insider witnesses” who will give evidence about the command structure of Mr. Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops when they carried out operations in the CAR. According to her, these witnesses will link Mr. Bemba to the crimes he is charged with.