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Victims’ Lawyer in Bemba Trial Dies

Assingambi Zarambaud, a lawyer representing victims in the war crimes trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba at the International Criminal Court (ICC), passed away last month.

There has been no official communication from the court regarding the death, but according to media reports, Mr. Zarambaud suffered a fatal heart attack in Paris, France on January 16, 2014. He was a national of the Central African Republic (CAR).

In a February 5, 2014 filing, the court’s registry confirmed that Marie-Edith Douzima Lawson, the second victims’ lawyer in the trial, would take on the representation of all the victims previously represented by Mr. Zarambaud. Two case managers would support her.

“The Registry considers that such an arrangement would ensure the continuity of the proper legal representation of victims at the current stage of the case, and would guarantee that the proceedings will be conducted without undue delay,” said Marc Dubuisson, the director of court services.

As of November 2012, there were 4,898 victims granted participating status in the trial which begun a little over three years ago. Two of the victims were invited by judges to give oral testimony before the court while three others expressed their views and concerns to the court. All five addressed the court by way of video link prior to the start of the defense case that opened in August 2012.

Mr. Zarambaud is the second lawyer to pass away during the trial of Mr. Bemba. In February 2012, Nkwebe Liriss, the lead counsel of the former Congolese vice president, died following an undisclosed “long illness.”

Mr. Bemba denies murder, rape, and pillaging charges arising from his alleged failure as commander-in-chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo to stop or punish his soldiers who brutalized Central African civilians. The alleged crimes took place during an armed conflict in 2002 and 2003.

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