December 7, 1999

The Central African Republic (CAR) signs the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

October 3, 2001

CAR ratifies the Rome Statute.

December 21, 2004

The CAR government refers crimes under the Rome Statute to the ICC.

June 2005

The CAR government provides documents to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor regarding alleged crimes on its territory during 2002-2003. The Prosecutor begins an analysis of the situation.

May 10, 2007

The Prosecutor informs the CAR government, the Pre-Trial Chamber and the ICC President that he is opening of a full investigation of the CAR situation.

May 22, 2007

The Prosecutor publicly announces the launch of his investigation.

May 9, 2008

The Prosecutor requests Pre-Trial Chamber III to issue a warrant of arrest for Jean-Pierre Bemba.

May 23, 2008

Pre-Trial Chamber III issues a warrant of arrest and a request to the government of Belgium to arrest Bemba. Both documents are under seal.

May 24, 2008

Belgian police arrest Bemba near Brussels. The Pre-Trial Chamber unseals the arrest warrant.

June 10, 2008

Pre-Trial Chamber III issues a new warrant of arrest to replace the warrant of May 23, 2008. The Chamber adds two counts of murder, one as a war crime, and the other as a crime against humanity. The Chamber also issues a request to Belgium for the arrest and surrender of Bemba to the ICC.

July 3, 2008

Belgium transfers and surrenders Bemba to the ICC.

July 4, 2008

Bemba makes his first appearance in court. Pre-Trial Chamber III explains the charges against him.

December 12, 2008

Pre-Trial Chamber III approves 54 victims who will be able to participate in hearings on whether the charges against Bemba should go to trial. At the ICC, victims may give evidence in the proceedings even if they are not called by the prosecution or defense. They have their own legal representation in the courtroom.

January 12-15, 2009

Pre-Trial Chamber III holds hearings to determine whether the Prosecutor has sufficient evidence against Bemba to proceed to trial. During the pre-trial phase, the Prosecutor does not need to prove the case, but only show that there are substantial grounds to believe that the Accused committed the alleged crimes.

March 3, 2009

Pre-Trial Chamber III adjourns the confirmation hearing and asks the Prosecutor to reconsider how he has charged Bemba. The Prosecutor sought to charge Bemba for direct responsibility in committing crimes. The Chamber asked the Prosecutor to consider whether he should attempt to charge Bemba as being responsible for the crimes because he was a commander who ordered or failed to prevent or punish crimes committed by those under his command.

June 15, 2009

Pre-Trial Chamber III decides that there is enough evidence to proceed to trial on three counts of war crimes (murder, rape, and pillaging) and two counts of crimes against humanity (murder and rape). The Chamber rejects the prosecution request for three other counts. It finds that the Prosecutor has failed to provide sufficient evidence to charge Bemba with one count of crimes against humanity (torture) and two counts of war crimes (torture, and outrage on personal dignity).

August 14, 2009

The Single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II (previously called Pre-Trial Chamber III), Ekaterina Trendafilova, grants Bemba interim release from ICC custody until the start of the trial. The decision is suspended until a state is identified that is willing to accept Bemba. The Prosecutor appeals the decision on the same day.

September 18, 2009

The ICC Presidency constitutes Trial Chamber III to hear evidence in the case of The Prosecutor vs. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. At the ICC, the judges who will hear the case are not the same as those who deal with pre-trial matters.

November 5, 2009

Trial Chamber III announces that the trial will begin on April 27, 2010.

December 2, 2009

The ICC Appeals Chamber overturns Pre-Trial Chamber II’s decision on interim release. Bemba remains in ICC custody.

February 25, 2010

The defense for Bemba submits an application to the trial chamber arguing that the case is inadmissible before the ICC. They cite three grounds for the challenge. They argue that the case could be properly conducted in the CAR, and so it is improper for the ICC – a court of last resort – to step in. They argue that the crimes alleged to have been committed are not serious enough to trigger ICC jurisdiction. And they argue that Bemba has suffered an abuse of the judicial process.

March 8, 2010

Trial Chamber III decides to postpone the start of the trial until July 5, 2010. It cites a need to consider the defense application arguing that the Bemba case is not admissible before the ICC before any trial can begin. The judges give the prosecution until March 29 to submit their views on the defense application, and they ask that CAR and DRC authorities be notified of the defense application so that they can make their views known by April 19, 2010. The judges note that the defense will be given an opportunity to respond to these observations.

April 27, 2010

Trial Chamber III holds a status conference with the parties to discuss Bemba’s admissibility challenge.

June 24, 2010

Trial Chamber III rejects the defense challenge on admissibility of the case before the ICC. It finds that CAR is unable to conduct the trial domestically, that the gravity of the alleged crimes is sufficient, and that the defense complaint about abuse of process “is without foundation.”

June 28, 2010

Bemba files a notice of appeal against Trial Chamber III’s decision on the defense challenge on admissibility of the case before the ICC.

July 26, 2010

Defense lawyers file documents before the Appeals Chamber of the ICC in support of Bemba’s appeal, raising four grounds of appeal. In his appeal, Bemba argues that the Trial Chamber erred in its decision that the decision of a lower court in CAR not to prosecute him was not final, that the Trial Chamber erred in its decision not to hear the evidence of an independent expert on the laws in CAR, that the Trial Chamber erred in its decision that the CAR did not have the capacity to conduct a trial of this kind, and that the Trial Chamber erred in its decision that Bemba’s action in filing a recent appeal before the courts in CAR was an “abuse of this court’s [ICC] process.”

October 19, 2010

The Appeals Chamber of the ICC delivers its decision in which it upheld the Trial Chamber’s earlier decision to dismiss Bemba’s admissibility challenge of the case before the ICC, thus paving the way for Bemba’s trial to commence.

October 21, 2010

Trial Chamber III holds a Status Conference and confirms that Bemba’s trial will commence on November 22, 2010.

November 22, 2010

Bemba’s case officially opens before Trial Chamber III of the ICC.

November 23, 2010

First witness for the prosecution begins testimony.

March 20, 2012

The 40th and final witness for prosecution completes testimony before the ICC.

May 1, 2012

The first victim participating in the trial begins testimony. Five out of 2,744 participating victims were  selected to provide evidence to the Court. Only two of those five testified in open court.

August 14, 2012

Defense case begins.

November 14, 2013

The 34th witness for the defense completes testimony before the ICC.

November 19, 2013

Trial Chamber III refuses to grant an extension to the defense to present its final two witnesses, ending the presentation of evidence by Bemba’s defense.

November 20, 2013

Single Judge Cuno Tarfusser issues a warrant of arrest for Bemba, Bemba’s lead counsel, Aimé Kilolo-Musamba; case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo; former aide Fidèle Babala Wandu; and defense witness Narcisse Arido for allegedly forging evidence and bribing witness.

November 23-24, 2013

Bemba’s lead counsel, Aimé Kilolo-Musamba; case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo; former aide Fidèle Babala Wandu; and defense witness Narcisse Arido are arrested. All are subsequently ordered to be released on October 21, 2014.

April 7, 2014

Evidence phase of trial officially closes and judges set filing dates for final briefs.

October 2, 2014

Trial Chamber III reopens the presentation of evidence in case against Jean-Pierre Bemba to hear testimony on issues of witness credibility. The judges also reschedule final oral submissions, which were originally planned to begin October 13, 2014.

November 11, 2014

Pre-Trial Chamber II confirms some charges against Bemba and four co-accused for crimes against the administration of justice. Judges reject charges of intentionally submitting forged or false documents.

November 12-13, 2014

Closing arguments take place at the ICC before Trial Chamber III.

September 29, 2015

Opening statements in the Bemba et al. case take place before Trial Chamber VII.

February 29, 2016

Defense in the Bemba et al. case begins.

March 21, 2016

Trial Chamber III in Bemba’s main case finds him guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including rape, committed in the CAR as commander of the MLC militia. It is the first time an ICC defendant is convicted under the theory of command responsibility. It is also the first time the ICC convicts a suspect for sexual violence.

May 31, 2016

Closing statements take place in the trial of Bemba et al. Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Fidèle Babala Wandu make unsworn oral statements during the closing.

June 21, 2016

Bemba is sentenced to 18 years in prison following his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is the longest sentence to-date ordered by ICC judges.

October 19, 2016

In the witness tampering trial, Bemba, Kilolo, and Mangenda were found guilty of corruptly influencing 14 witnesses, Arido was found guilty of corruptly influencing four witnesses, and Babala, two. Additionally, Bemba was found guilty of soliciting false testimony, Kilolo of producing false testimony, and Mangenda of aiding the false testimony of two witnesses and abetting the false testimony of seven witnesses.

Babala and Arido were both acquitted of charges of aiding the false testimony of witnesses and of the presentation of false evidence.

March 22, 2017

Bemba is sentenced to an additional year in prison for his conviction in the witness tampering trial. He is also ordered to pay a €300,000 fine to the ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims. Aimé Kilolo Musamba is fined €30,000 and given a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years, suspended over three years. Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, which is also suspended for three years.

Fidèle Babala Wandu is sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and Narcisse Arido was sentenced to 11 months’ imprisonment. Since the sentences for the two individuals are less than the time they spent in pre-trial custody, judges considered their sentences as served.

January 9-11, 2018

Appeals hearings are held following defense appeal against conviction and appeals by the prosecution and the defense against the 18-year prison sentence. Among others, the hearings dwelt on the interpretation of a military commander’s responsibility for crimes committed by subordinates. On the sentence, the defense pleaded for a lower term while the prosecution asked judges to raise the prison sentence to a minimum of 25 years.

March 1, 2018

Bemba’s lawyers seek the disqualification of the judges from Trial Chamber III from handling the reparations proceedings in his main trial. The lawyers allege that the pattern of rulings by judges Joyce Aluoch, Geoffrey Henderson, and Chang-ho Chung, suggested that they had a bias against Bemba.

March 8, 2018

Appeals judges uphold the convictions of Bemba and his four associates for giving false testimony and corruptly influencing witnesses. However, the judges overturned Bemba and his lawyers’ conviction over presentation of false oral testimony. They reverse the sentences imposed on Bemba, Kilolo, and Mangenda and direct the trial chamber to determine new sentences.

June 8, 2018

Bemba is acquitted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Appeals judges, in a majority decision, find that the trial chamber erred in finding that Bemba did not take necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the crimes committed.

June 12, 2018

Trial Chamber VII orders the immediate release of Bemba from detention. 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.