International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Bemba in Belgium After Release From ICC Detention

Jean-Pierre Bemba, the Congolese opposition leader freed from International Criminal Court (ICC) detention last Friday, was released to Belgium, whose government did not object to his presence in the country.

The 55-year-old former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has a home in Belgium, where his wife and children live. He was initially arrested from the country back in May 2008 before being handed over to the ICC in July of that year.

Last Tuesday, Trial Chamber VII judges ordered Bemba’s release pending the determination of his new sentence in a case where he was convicted for tampering with witnesses. The decision followed his June 8, 2018 acquittal following an appeal in his main trial for war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Lawyers Granted More Time to File Closing Brief

Former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers have been granted a two-week extension to the deadline for filing their closing brief. The defense had requested an extra three weeks, citing, among other reasons, staff attrition from the defense team and anticipated delays in translating the prosecution’s closing brief into the Kinyarwanda language.

In the May 29 ruling, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) determined that, whereas “good cause has been shown to grant an extension,” two weeks would be sufficient. Accordingly, the defense has until July 2, 2018 to file its brief.

Ntaganda is on trial at the court based in The Hague over 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed during an ethnic conflict in Congo’s … Continue Reading

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Les avocats de M. Ntaganda se voient accorder un délai pour déposer leur mémoire en clôture

Les avocats de l’ancien commandant rebelle congolais Bosco Ntaganda se sont vus accorder un report de la date limite pour le dépôt de leur mémoire en clôture. La défense avait demandé un délai de trois semaines, citant, entre autres motifs, la réduction des effectifs de personnel dans l’équipe de défense et les délais prévisibles pour traduire le mémoire en clôture de l’accusation en kinyarwanda.

Dans une décision du 29 mai, les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont décidé que, bien qu’un « motif valable ait été présenté pour un report », deux semaines devraient suffisantes. Ainsi, la défense a jusqu’au 2 juillet 2018 pour soumettre son mémoire.

Ntaganda est jugé devant la Cour basée à La Haye pour 18 chefs de crimes de guerre … Continue Reading

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Ongwen Defense Intends to Call 66 Witnesses When Trial Resumes in September

The defense of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), intends to call up to 66 witnesses to testify when hearings resume in September.

Single Judge Bertram Schmitt announced in a June 5 order that the trial of Ongwen will resume on September 18. At the ICC, the Single Judge is one of the judges of a trial chamber who is designated to handle procedural matters on behalf of the other judges.

In his order, Judge Schmitt said the defense will have five hours to make their opening statement on September 18. He also said the first block of witnesses will testify between September 27 and October 10.

When … Continue Reading

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Bemba Set For Release From ICC Detention

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have ordered the release from detention of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was last Friday acquitted of war crimes.

In a decision issued Tuesday afternoon, judges considered it “disproportionate” to further detain Bemba “merely to ensure his appearance for sentencing” in a separate case over his conviction for witness tampering. He will be released as soon as the court’s Registry makes the necessary arrangements.

The 55-year-old former militia commander and opposition leader, who has been in the court’s detention for nearly 10 years, will be released to Belgium, where he will join his wife and five children. As part of his conditions for release, Bemba is expected to immediately surrender to authorities if … Continue Reading

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Bemba Acquitted of War Crimes at the ICC

The Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) has overturned Jean-Pierre Bemba’s conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In a ruling issued Friday afternoon, a majority of appeals judges found that the trial chamber erred in finding that Bemba did not take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the crimes committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) by his subordinate troops 16 years ago.

They also ruled that trial judges erroneously convicted Bemba for specific criminal acts that were outside the scope of the charges confirmed against him by the pre-trial chamber.

Judges Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Piotr Hofmański disagreed with the majority’s decision to acquit Bemba. Other judges on the Appeals Chamber were Christine Van den Wyngaert (presiding), Chile Eboe-Osuji, … Continue Reading


Molina Theissen Case: Court Orders Creation of a Commission to Search for Disappeared Persons and Other Reparations

In the aftermath of the May 23 guilty verdict against four senior military officials for crimes against humanity, aggravated sexual assault, and enforced disappearance in the Molina Theissen case, High Risk Court “C” convened a reparations hearing on May 28. The Molina Theissen family did not request economic reparations, which they had already received from the State of Guatemala after the 2004 judgement by the Inter-American Court for Human Rights found Guatemala responsible for the enforced disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen.

Former Army Chief of Staff and retired army general Benedicto Lucas Garcia participated via videoconference from the military hospital, as he has for the last several hearings of the proceedings, while the other three military officials convicted in the … Continue Reading

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Bemba Appeal Verdict Due Tomorrow

Tomorrow, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will announce the verdict in appeals against Jean Pierre Bemba’s conviction and the 18-year prison sentence handed to him two years ago.

The former Congolese vice president, who has been in the court’s custody since July 2008, has asked the Appeals Chamber to quash his conviction or to lower the sentence and release him even if the conviction is upheld. The court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, has asked judges to raise the prison sentence to 25 years.

Bemba was unanimously convicted over two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape); and three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging). The crimes were committed during an armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) … Continue Reading

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The Ongwen Trial: The Prosecution’s Case in Numbers

On April 13, the prosecution formally concluded presenting their evidence in the International Criminal Court trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Below are some key numbers pertaining to the prosecution’s case.

142 days: The time it took for prosecution witnesses to testify. The first prosecution witness began testifying on January 16, 2017. The last one concluded their testimony on April 12, 2018.

69 witnesses: The number of prosecution witnesses who testified before the International Criminal Court (ICC) between January 2017 and April 2018. A wide range of witnesses testified, including experts, members of Ugandan security agencies, former members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and survivors of attacks on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP).

Categories … Continue Reading

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Bemba Appeal Judgment: New Fact Sheet

On Friday, June 8, at 16.00 hrs local time, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in The Hague will deliver its judgment on the appeal of Jean-Pierre Bemba, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the trial chamber in March, 2016.

The Open Society Justice Initiative has produced a fact sheet summarizing the issues involved, which can be downloaded as a pdf  from the Open Society Foundations website by clicking here.


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