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Witness Ends Testimony in Private Session

The 35th witness called by the prosecution in Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) today completed giving evidence, with his cross-examination by the defense conducted in private session.

Going by the court-given name of ‘Witness 69,’ he commenced his testimony on Monday and described various crimes allegedly committed by soldiers belonging to the militia commanded by the accused. These crimes, which he witnessed, included rape, murder, and pillaging.

Mr. Bemba is on trial at the Hague-based ICC over the crimes of rape, murder, and pillaging allegedly committed by his troops during their involvement in an armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). He denies the charges, which prosecutors claim arose from his failure to control his marauding forces.

The witness has testified that six armed Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) soldiers raped his wife and sodomized him when they arrived in the town of Begua during November 2002.

Yesterday, the defense highlighted inconsistencies between the testimony of this witness and the statements of his spouse. Mr. Bemba’s defense also questioned ‘Witness 69’ about the differences between the events surrounding his alleged abuse at the hands of MLC soldiers, as he described them to prosecution investigators, and how he retold them in court. The witness attributed the inconsistencies to transcription errors in his oral testimony.

The trial is scheduled to resume on Tuesday, December 6, 2011.