International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

ICC Judges Hand Bemba €300,000 Fine, Defense Lawyers Get Suspended Sentences

Jean-Pierre Bemba has been handed the heaviest penalty among the five individuals sentenced today for tampering with witnesses at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Judges also issued suspended sentences for Bemba’s two former lawyers and also imposed monetary penalties on two of those convicted.

The former vice president of Congo was sentenced to one-year in prison and fined €300,000, which he has to pay within three months. His former lead defense counsel, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, was fined €30,000, also payable in three months, and handed a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years, suspended over three years. The two fines shall ultimately be transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims.

Judges ruled that the time Bemba’s four associates spent in pre-trial detention should be … Continue Reading

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Sentencing in ICC’s First Witness Tampering Trial Due Tomorrow

Tomorrow, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will deliver the sentences of five individuals convicted of tampering with defense witnesses who testified in the trial of Congolese politician Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The five, who include Bemba, were convicted last October on various charges in the first trial under Article 70 of the court’s Rome Statute, which relates to offenses against the administration of justice. In the conviction decision, judges found that the five intentionally corruptly influenced 14 defense witnesses and presented their false testimonial evidence to the court.

Delivery of the decision on sentencing is scheduled for 11:00 local time in The Hague in open court. Judges ordered all the accused to be present in the courtroom. Bemba’s four associates have been on conditional … Continue Reading

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Legality of Communication Intercepts in the Spotlight at the ICC

The legality of interception of communications by International Criminal Court (ICC) investigators and Dutch authorities is being challenged as part of appeals filed by Jean-Pierre Bemba and his four associates, who were last October convicted for witness tampering. All five – whose sentences will be delivered later this month – are appealing the convictions.

In a February 14, 2017 submission to appeals judges, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo’s lawyer claims his conviction “rested decisively” on telephone surveillance that was authorized on the basis of financial records reviewed and obtained by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) without any judicial authorization. The lawyer, Christopher Gosnell, contends that the trial chamber erred in admitting information arising from the telephone surveillance. While describing the interceptions as … Continue Reading

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What Sentences Could the ICC Impose for Witness Interference?

In the next few months, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will hand down sentences for five individuals convicted of witness tampering. Those awaiting sentencing are former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, his two former lawyers, a close associate who is also a Member of Parliament in Congo, and a former witness in Bemba’s war crimes trial at the court.

The case of Bemba and his associates is the first such case tried by the ICC. There are other cases of corruptly influencing witnesses at the ICC, such as that of Kenyans Walter Barasa, Paul Gicheru, and Philip Kipkoech Bett, for whom the court issued arrest warrants. There have also been allegations of witness interference in seven cases that have … Continue Reading

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One Witness to Testify at ICC’s First Witness Tampering Sentencing Hearing Next Week

The prosecution will call one witness to testify at the sentencing hearing of Jean-Pierre Bemba and his four associates who were found guilty last October of witness tampering at the International Criminal Court (ICC). No witness will testify for the defense at the hearing scheduled for December 12-14, 2016.

In a November 11, 2016 decision on the sentencing hearing, judges Bertram Schmitt (presiding), Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, and Raul C. Pangalangan considered that hearing the live testimony of the proposed nine defense character witnesses “would constitute an inefficient sentencing presentation which might be disproportionate to the anticipated value of their evidence.” As such, judges directed that written statements be submitted for the defense character witnesses.

Bemba and his former lawyers Aimé Kilolo … Continue Reading

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Prosecutor Asks ICC Judges to Give Bemba Longer Prison Sentence

The prosecution has made the case for a longer prison sentence for Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was handed an 18-year jail term at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The prosecution argued that this sentence is disproportionate to Bemba’s culpability and the harm caused to victims of the crimes.

In the appeal document published on October 21, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asks judges to raise the prison sentence to at least 25 years. This was the same sentence the prosecution proposed in sentencing submissions last May.

Last June, Bemba was sentenced to 18 years for rape, 16 years for murder, and 16 years for pillaging. However, judges ruled that the sentences be served concurrently. Bemba, who was commander-in-chief of the Movement … Continue Reading

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Bemba and Four Associates Convicted for Witness Tampering

Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba alongside four associates, who include two of his former defense lawyers, have been convicted in the witness bribery trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Their sentences will be announced at a later date.

Upon conviction for offenses against the administration of justice covered by Article 70 of the court’s Rome Statute, judges may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, a fine, or both. Today judges ordered that those convicted, besides Bemba, would remain on conditional release pending the determination of their penalties.

Bemba and his former lawyers Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo were found guilty of corruptly influencing 14 witnesses – D-2, D-3, D-4, D-6, D-13, D-15, D-23, D-25, D-26, D-29, … Continue Reading

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Verdict to be Delivered Tomorrow in First ICC Witness Tampering Trial

Tomorrow, judges will deliver the judgment in the first witness corruption case handled by the International Criminal Court (ICC).  The verdict in the trial in which there are five accused individuals will be delivered in open court at 14:30 local time in The Hague.

The charges, under Article 70 of the Rome Statute, stem from the trial of former Congolese vice president, Jean-Pierre Bemba, over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Central African Republic (CAR). Tried alongside him for corrupting 14 witnesses who testified in the main trial were Bemba’s former defense team lead Aimé Kilolo Musamba, case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, defense witness Narcisse Arido, and Congolese parliamentarian Fidèle Babala Wandu.

In confirming the charges against them, pre-trial judges … Continue Reading

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Bemba Lays Out Grounds for Appeal Against ICC Conviction

Former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba has laid out the grounds of appeal against his conviction by International Criminal Court (ICC) judges over his failure to punish his troops who committed rape, murder, and pillaging in the Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002 and 2003.

In a 196-page appeal document filed on September 28, 2016, Bemba’s lawyers raise several fair trial issues, mostly related to access by prosecution officials to privileged defense communication and failure by trial judges to grant the defense an opportunity to respond to allegations of witness tampering.

Lead defense lawyer Peter Haynes also contests the conviction on the grounds that judges ignored crucial evidence submitted by the defense, failed to investigate allegations that prosecution witnesses had been bribed, … Continue Reading

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Verdict in ICC’s First Witness Tampering Trial Scheduled for October 19

The verdict in the first evidence tampering trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) will be delivered on October 19, according to an order issued today by judges. The judgement will be delivered in open court at 14:30 local time in The Hague.
 
Former Congolese opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, along with his two former lawyers Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo and two other associates, stand accused of bribing and coaching witnesses to provide false testimony to the court. These 14 defense witnesses testified in Bemba’s trial over rape, murder, and pillaging by his Movement for the Liberation of Congo troops. Earlier this year, Bemba was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison, but he is appealing both the conviction and … Continue Reading

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