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Resumption of Bemba Trial Pushed to Next Week

The resumption of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial, which had earlier been scheduled for this week, has now been postponed to Monday next week. Before the court broke off for the winter recess early last month,Presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner announced that the trial would resume on January 16, 2012 when prosecutors would call their 37th witness in the trial of the former Congolese vice president.

While the hearings schedule had indicated that Mr. Bemba’s trial would resume on January 18, it has now been changed to Monday, January 23, 2012. Mr. Bemba, the fourth Congolese national to be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC) based in The Hague, stands accused of failing to control or punish his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops who reportedly brutalized civilians during the 2002-2003 armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). He has pleaded not guilty to all five charges he faces.

Since the opening of the trial in November 2010, prosecutors have called 36 of their 40 scheduled witnesses. It is expected that once all prosecution witnesses have testified, some victims will be called to testify before the defense case opens.