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Second Bemba Lawyer Appears Before ICC on Evidence Forgery Charges

Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a member of the defense team in the ongoing trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, on Thursday made his initial appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on allegations of witness and evidence tampering.

Mr. Kabongo, who has been case manager for Mr. Bemba’s defense, confirmed his identity and added: “I have understood the counts, and I do not acknowledge the counts lodged against me.”

The accused was surrendered to the court yesterday upon completion of national proceedings in the Netherlands where he was arrested on November 23. Prosecutors allege that he, together with Aimé Kilolo-Musamba, who was Mr. Bemba’s lead counsel, Fidèle Babala Wandu, a member of the Congolese parliament, and Narcisse Arido, a defense witness in the trial, are responsible for corruptly influencing witnesses and presenting false or forged evidence before the court.

The four are jointly accused with Mr. Bemba, who has since November 2010 been on trial over alleged failure to stop or punish his marauding Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) troops during the 2002-2003 armed conflict in the Central African Republic.

Jean Flamme, the lawyer representing Mr. Kabongo, said the allegations against the five suspects were “serious” and “a trial within a trial.” He said the proceedings could have an influence on the main case against Mr. Bemba and the careers of the lawyers involved.

Furthermore, Mr. Flamme said the seizure of items, including from Mr. Kabongo’s office and recordings of intercepted phone calls, was “excessive” and had compromised the defense strategy in Mr. Bemba’s ongoing trial because his lawyers had also been looking into witness tampering by the prosecution.

“There is a letter from a prosecution witness asking for money promised to them. These are protected witnesses and the prosecution is not independent and has an interest in the matter,” said Mr. Flamme.

Judge Cuno Tarfusser ruled that all materials Dutch authorities seized from Mr. Kabongo’s home and office shall remain in the custody of the court’s registry until an independent counsel is appointed to determine the relevance of the materials to the case and those subject to confidentiality. The pre-trial chamber judge made a similar ruling yesterday in relation to three other suspects.

The judge informed Mr. Kabongo that the evidence disclosure schedule set for Mr. Bemba, Mr. Kilolo, and Mr. Wandu, who made their initial appearance before him on November 27, applied to him as well.

However, the judge stated that whereas contact restrictions with family members and third parties were yesterday lifted for Mr. Bemba, Mr. Kilolo, and Mr. Wandu, the restrictions in place for Mr. Kabongo would expire 72 hours from the time of his entry into court custody. Thereafter, he would enjoy the same rights as his co-accused.

All suspects, except Mr. Arido are being held at the Scheveningen detention center in The Hague. Mr. Arido’s transfer to the court is pending the conclusion of national proceedings in France, where he was arrested.

Between now and May 2014, a series of status conferences shall take place for the filling of evidence and submissions by the prosecution and the defense. Thereafter, Judge Tarfusser shall render a written decision on the confirmation of charges.

5 Comments

  1. Que le Juge fasse le nécessaire pour que le procès soit rapide et équitable pour l’accusation et pour la défense afin d’en finir avec le dossier principal Bemba qui discrédite la Cour avec ses tergiversations sur les preuves .
    Une longue procédure juste pour punir Bemba et si celui-ci n’est lavé de tout soupçon, la CPI va dédommager Bemba et sa famille qui croupissent d’humiliations et d’inactivités pendant plus de cinq ans?

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  2. This is a big scandal for CPI , this is a personal vendetta against Bemba by Bensouda ,this should be mistrial. Mangenda lawyer describe exactly what prosecutor did is to anticipate the arrest of four peoples to block the defence strategy who knew that twenty ones prosecution witnesses are demanding money promised by prosecution, it means the prosecution played a dirty game.This is a very serious issue and the prosecutor must be prosecuted or resign and I am for Mangenda lawyer who determined to look a this matter closely .

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  3. c’est du jamais vu ou du deja vu, la CPI n’a plus de credibilite quand on voit l’acharnement de Me Bensouda qui veut a tout prix gagner ce process et la boite a pandore a ete ouverte par l’avocat de monsieur Mangenda c’est tout simplement un complot visant a detenir Bemba par tous les moyens non conventionels.que dire d’autres? un procureur qui manqué d’integrite morale, qui soudoit les temoins,les temoins qui se rencontrent malgre les restrictions leur empechant de se voire et se rencontrer ,finalement qui trompe qui? et qui dit vrai? on souhaite que ce process soit publique pour qu’on sache la verite. le procureur doit demissioner, elle fait la honte de la justice ou elle a herite d’un dossier pourri et prefabrique. l’histoire nous rattrape toujours et la verite est comme le soleil personne ne peut l’empecher d’apparaitre.Le mensonge n’a jamais triomphe.

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  4. Ce proces de bemba est un remake de la fable de Delafontaine: le loup et l’agneau.

    La raison du plus fort est toujours la meilleure :
    Nous l’allons montrer tout à l’heure.
    Un Agneau se désaltérait
    Dans le courant d’une onde pure.
    Un Loup survient à jeun qui cherchait aventure,
    Et que la faim en ces lieux attirait.
    Qui te rend si hardi de troubler mon breuvage ?
    Dit cet animal plein de rage :
    Tu seras châtié de ta témérité.
    – Sire, répond l’Agneau, que votre Majesté
    Ne se mette pas en colère ;
    Mais plutôt qu’elle considère
    Que je me vas désaltérant
    Dans le courant,
    Plus de vingt pas au-dessous d’Elle,
    Et que par conséquent, en aucune façon,
    Je ne puis troubler sa boisson.
    – Tu la troubles, reprit cette bête cruelle,
    Et je sais que de moi tu médis l’an passé.
    – Comment l’aurais-je fait si je n’étais pas né ?
    Reprit l’Agneau, je tette encor ma mère.
    – Si ce n’est toi, c’est donc ton frère.
    – Je n’en ai point. – C’est donc quelqu’un des tiens :
    Car vous ne m’épargnez guère,
    Vous, vos bergers, et vos chiens.
    On me l’a dit : il faut que je me venge.
    Là-dessus, au fond des forêts
    Le Loup l’emporte, et puis le mange,
    Sans autre forme de procès.

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  5. Bemba rial is a remake of The Wolf and the Lamb

    The strongest is always right.
    We will prove it shortly
    A Lamb was quenching it’s thirst
    In a clear stream;
    A starving Wolf suddently appears, looking for a meal,
    Brought here by hunger.
    “How dare you foul my water hole?
    Said the Wolf full of righteous fury:
    -You will be chastised for you temerity.
    -Sire, replies the Lamb, Your Majesty
    Need not be angry;
    But rather consider
    That I am drinking
    More than twenty feet
    Downstream from him;
    Therefore in no way
    Could I spoil his water.
    -Oh, yes you do, growled the cruel beast;
    And I heard that you spoke ill of me last year.
    -How could I, if I were not yet born?
    The Lamb persisted, I am still nursing.
    If it were not you, then it must have been your brother.
    -I don’t have any. -Then it was one of your lot;
    Because you are always pestering me,
    You, your shepherds and your dogs.
    So I have been told: I must avenge myself.”
    With that, deep in the forest,
    The Wolf carried off the Lamb, and ate it,
    Without further ado.

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