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Judges’ Witness Gives All Evidence in Bemba Trial in Closed Session

Today, a witness called by judges continued to give all his evidence in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba in closed session. ‘Witness CHM-01’ is testifying by way of video link from an unknown location.

This witness is one of two individuals that judges requested to testify in Mr. Bemba’s trial pursuant to Article 64 and Article 69 of the Rome Statute. According to the judges, the names of these individuals were “repeatedly mentioned” by prosecution and defense witnesses, yet none of the parties in the trial had called them to testify. The second individual declined to give evidence for reasons not made public.

At the start of his testimony on Monday, presiding Judge Sylvia Steiner announced that in addition to testifying under a pseudonym, ‘Witness CHM-01’ had been granted full protective measures and none of his testimony would be heard by the public.

It is unknown what role the witness played during the five month period in which ICC prosecutors claim troops belonging to the Movement for the Liberation of Congo committed mass rapes, murders, and pillaging against the civilian population of the Central African Republic. As their commander-in-chief, Mr. Bemba stands accused of criminal responsibility for the alleged crimes. The former vice president of Congo denies all five charges against him.

Because ‘Witness CHM-01’ gave all his evidence in closed session, it was not possible to establish whether he completed his testimony.