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Bemba Trial Hearings Cancelled This Week

Hearings in Jean-Pierre Bemba’s trial have this week been cancelled for reasons the International Criminal Court (ICC) did not disclose. The hearings are expected to resume in August when the court returns from the summer judicial recess.

Last week, judges ordered that ‘Witness D04-15’ should this week give evidence via video link from an undisclosed location. His testimony would be heard from July 15 through to July 17, although the latter date is a court holiday. The chamber had also decided to sit for extended hours in order to complete the testimony by this witness before the judicial recess, which starts this Friday.

However, the court schedule has since been changed to show that there will be no hearings all of this week. It was not possible to establish from court officials why ‘Witness D04-15’ could not testify this week. This witness had earlier been expected to testify in person at the seat of the court from last Monday. However, due to unspecified medical and logistical difficulties, the defense reported that this individual would not be able to travel to The Hague before July 15, prompting judges to allow him to testify via video link.

Since the start of the defense case last August, 25 witnesses have testified for Mr. Bemba. The defense intends to call another 20 witnesses to testify for the former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who is on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The court’s summer recess ends on August 12.