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Second Week of Closed Hearings in Bemba Trial

Today, the testimony of defense ‘Witness D04-19’ in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC) continued in closed session. This witness started testifying last Monday, and court officials confirmed that all of his evidence would be heard in closed session.

‘Witness D04-19’ is the fifteenth witness to appear for the former Congolese vice president whose defense case opened last August. On February 6, 2013, judges granted a defense request to hear this individual’s testimony via video link from an undisclosed location. They noted that the confidential reasons given by the defense “were well founded.”

Prosecutors charge that Mr. Bemba failed to control his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) fighters who allegedly pillaged, raped, and murdered Central African civilians between October 2002 and March 2003. At the time, the MLC were in the neighboring country to assist its then president Ange-Félix Patassé beat back a rebellion.

Mr. Bemba has denied all five charges against him in the proceedings that started back in November 2010. He claims that once his troops left Congolese territory, it was Mr. Patassé who was in the control of them.

‘Witness D04-19’ is scheduled to complete his testimony on Wednesday, March 6.