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Judges Call Status Conference After Bemba Hearings Stall

There were no hearings this week in the Jean-Pierre Bemba trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), although the trial had been scheduled for four days. As a result, on September 28, judges issued an order setting an agenda for a status conference to be held on Tuesday, October 2, 2012.

Court officials said that hearings were cancelled as a result of a delay with the availability of the next scheduled witness. Four of the 63 defense witnesses have testified since the start of the defense case last month.

Issues to be addressed at the status conference include measures to ensure the smooth presentation of evidence by the defense in order to avoid gaps in the appearance of witnesses; possible changes in the order of appearance of defense witnesses to increase the efficiency of the proceedings; and potential alternatives to live testimony in The Hague, including the organization of in situ hearings or the presentation of testimony via video-link.

The conference will be attended by the Office of the Prosecutor, the defense, the legal representatives of victims, representatives of the Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU), and the Registry.

Mr. Bemba, 49, is on trial at the ICC over the rape, murder, and pillaging allegedly carried out by the militia arm of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) he commanded against civilians of the Central African Republic during 2002 and 2003. The former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has denied all five charges against him in the trial that commenced in November 2010.


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