International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Hearing in Bemba Trial Cancelled Until Next Week

Today’s scheduled hearing in the trial of Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba was cancelled for unknown reasons, although it is likely that the next scheduled witness was not ready to commence giving evidence. Since the start of his defense case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) last August, nineteen witnesses have testified for Mr. Bemba, who is in trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Mr. Bemba’s lawyers have many times told judges about difficulties they faced in getting the individuals on the defense’s witness list to testify before the court. Many of those individuals were unable to travel to the seat of the court in the Netherlands, while others – presumably in military service in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic –were unable to secure authorization to testify remotely. The defense had this month reduced from 63 to 50 the number of witnesses it intends to call.

Hearings in the trial are scheduled to resume on Tuesday, May 28.

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