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Informal weekly summary of ICC courtroom activities in the case of The Prosecutor vs. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

Bemba Case


Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo: born in 1962 in Bokada, Equateur Province; national of the DRC; alleged president and commander-in-chief of the Mouvement pour la libération du Congo (Movement for the Liberation of the Congo) (MLC).

Situation: Central African Republic
Case: 01/05-01/08 - The Prosecutor vs. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo
Hearing: Trial Proceedings
Chamber: Trial Chamber III- Judge Sylvia Steiner (Presiding Judge), Judge Joyce Aluoch and Judge Kuniko Ozaki
Parties: OTP - Ms. Bensouda, Ms. Kneuer and team
Defence:  Mr. Aimé Kilolo-Musamba, Mr. Peter Haynes and team
Credit: ICC-CPI
Participants: 5229 victims represented by
Legal Representatives for Victims: Ms. Marie Edith Douzima-Lawson and Mr. Assingambi Zarambaud
Alleged crimes: Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is allegedly responsible, as military commander, of:
  • Crimes against humanity: Murder and rape.
  • War crimes: Murder, rape and pillaging.
Start of Trial: 22 November 2010

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Weekly Summary of proceedings 5 - 9 June 2013

This week, one witness testified: witness D04-18 (Defence witness), former member of the ALC[1]. The witness testified from the Court room under protective measures – with face and voice distortion.

 
3 & 4 June 2013
No Hearings

5 June 2013
The Defence commenced its examination of witness D04-18 led by Defence counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba. The witness provided insight on:
  • The territory on which the armed branch of the MLC[2] allegedly conducted military action in 2001[3]: The witness stated that the armed branch of the MLC conducted military actions in the Oriental Province of Congo until 2001 and moved to Eastern DRC where they stayed in 2001.
  • The structure and the command of the armed branch of the MLC in 2001: The witness stated that the armed branch of the MLC was composed of the political/military committee and the general staff with a number of directorates. The witness stated that there were various low ranking sectors such as brigade and battalions, companies, all the way down to small units.
  • Role of General Amuli in the ALC in 2001: The witness stated that the ALC headquarters were commanded by the chief of general staff, General Amuli. According to the witness, in 2001, the day to day management of the ALC, including dealing with disciplinary issues, was conferred to General Amuli with the assistance of directorates and commanders. However, the witness could not provide more details on roles, duties and tasks of officers in the ALC from mid 2002 as he was not in the ALC at that time. 
  • The role of Bemba as commander in chief in the ALC in 2001: The witness stated that, between 2001 and the end of the conflict[4] in CAR, Bemba was allegedly the commander-in-chief of the ALC. The witness alleged that Bemba chaired the military committee. When asked by the Defence if Bemba had a role to play in the preparation of field operations on territories under the control of the MLC, the witness replied that Bemba did not play any role. However, the witness claimed that “Bemba would have had reacted if a situation would required him to respond”. 
  • MLC intervention in CAR in 2001 and 2003: The witness explained that the ALC and the MLC intervened in the context of two interventions in 2001 and 2003 in CAR. According to the witness, the intervention in 2001 in CAR was led by the Ambassador for DRC in CAR and the 2003 intervention was led by General Mustafa. The witness claimed that the Ambassador was obeying the orders of FACA[5] forces, led by Bozizé, chief of general staff, during the 2001 operations.
  •  The role of FACA troops involved with ALC in the CAR intervention in 2001: The witness stated that FACA forces were on the ground in the CAR because as the ALC troops did not know the terrain well, the FACA troops, who had knowledge of the terrain were able to provide guidance to the ALC troops. 
  • On the contacts between the Ambassador and Bemba in 2001: When asked by the Prosecution if, in 2001, the Ambassador for DRC in CAR communicated with Bemba, the witness stated that, as Bemba was in Beni, DRC, the Ambassador was communicating with the chief of general staff of FACA and Jean-Jacques Demafouth from the CAR Ministry of Defence. 
  • Bemba’s contacts with Bozizé or Jean-Jacques Demafouth, former minister of Defence in 2001 in CAR: The witness stated that Bemba allegedly did not have any contact with Patassé or Demafouth in 2001. The witness reiterated that the DRC Ambassador, in charge of the ALC operations in CAR, was accountable to Bozizé. This is why, on 11 June 2001, at the end operations in CAR, the ALC troops were thanked by Jean-Jacques Demafouth and Bozizé. 
  • On the non commission of crimes by ALC troops in CAR during the 2001 operations: The witness stated that the ALC did not commit pillaging in CAR during the 2001 operations. The witness claimed that the ALC troops joyfully left Bangui at the end of the 2001 operations and stated that civilians regretted that ALC had to leave as they felt protected when the ALC troops were around. 
  • Language used by ALC troops in Bangui, in 2001: The witness explained that the local language spoken in CAR was Sango[6], that the local language spoken in DRC was Lingala[7] and people in both countries used to speak French, the common language spoken on both sides of the border between CAR and DRC.  
  • The behaviour of the attackers[8] on the Central African civilian population in 2001: The witness claimed that lots of abuses were allegedly committed by the attackers such as hostage taking, pillaging and stealing of goods of Patassé’s government in 2001. The witness claimed that he had heard some CAR civilians complaining about alleged theft, pillaging, rapes and murders allegedly committed by the attackers. According to the witness, the liberation of CAR cities under the rebel authorities generated joy, however, in areas liberated by the ALC, the population complained. 
  • Details about the second operation in CAR in 2002: When asked by the Defence counsel about who commanded the 2002 intervention in CAR, witness D04-18 stated that he did not have the information as he was no longer part of the ALC in 2002. 
The Prosecution commenced the cross-examination of witness D04-18 led by the Prosecution, Ms. Bala-Gaye. The witness provided insight on:
  • Conversation with the Defence expert witness General Seara[9], retired French army brigadier: The witness stated that he met the General Seara once for approximately 2 hours. When asked by the Prosecution if someone from the Defence team or Mr. Kilolo was present at that meeting, the witness answered that no one from the Prosecution nor from the Defence attended this meeting. The Prosecution asked if the witness gave any information on the 2002-2003 intervention at that meeting and the witness replied that he gave limited information as he was not part of the army at that time.
6 June 2013
The Prosecution continued its cross-examination of witness D04-18. The witness provided insights on:
  • MLC chief of general staff in 2001 - General Amuli: The witness stated that the chief of general staff received orders in 2001 from the ‘commander in chief’. The witness replied that he was not sure if the chief of general staff received orders from the political/military committee of the ALC or another entity. The witness confirmed that the DRC Ambassador received orders from the chief of general staff. The witness stated that the chief of general staff could take decisions by himself.
  • The role of the Ambassador in the liaison between the ALC and the CAR government: When asked by the Prosecution if a specific soldier in the ALC battalions was assigned to act as a liaison, the witness stated that the Ambassador himself was allegedly in charge of the liaison between the ALC and the CAR during the 2001 operations. 
  • The division of the operations between the FACA and the ALC troops in Bangui in 2001: The witness stated that the ALC worked hand in hand with FACA. The witness mentioned that the ALC troops needed FACA members because of their knowledge of Bangui. 
  • Daily reports sent from the DRC Ambassador to the FACA chief of staff: The witness confirmed that the DRC Ambassador used to send daily reports to the FACA chief of staff, copying superiors in Gbadolité. 
  • Witness’ perception of Bemba: When asked by the Prosecution how the witness, as a soldier in the ALC troops, would describe Bemba as a leader, the witness replied that he was a military man, an officer in the ALC and not a soldier. The witness stated that he had his own superior to whom he was accountable and did not have any direct contact with Bemba. 
  • Opinion of the witness of Bemba’s book: After the Prosecution read an extract of the book of a conversation wherein Patassé asked Bemba for help to fight the rebellion ongoing in CAR, the Prosecution asked the witness to provide his views on passages of the extract, specifically on where Bemba’s responsibility in  issuing orders to the ALC operations in CAR. The witness replied that the book contained some political propaganda and that some facts had been embellished by the editors of the book in order to serve Bemba’s political agenda. When asked by the Prosecution if the chapter contained the truth, the witness answered that the chapter contained the truth but that there had been some interpretations associated with political propaganda. 
  • The orders allegedly given by FACA to ALC troops in Bangui in 2001: The witness stated that the tactical orders could only come from FACA chief of general staff as Bemba did not the terrain well and therefore could not give tactical orders. 
7 June 2013
No Hearings


[1] ALC: Armée de Libération du Congo, the armed branch of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 
[2] MLC stands for The Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo which is a political party in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
[3] In 2001, a coup d’état was attempted in CAR by General Kolingba against former President Ange-Félix Patassé, who turned to assistance from Libya and Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, a DRC politician and his Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) militia.
[4] The witness did not specify which conflict he was referring to.
[5] The FACA were the CAR armed forces.
[6] Sango is a Central African language widely spoken in Bangui
[7] Lingala is a Bantu language spoken primarily in the northern area of the DRC
[8] The witness did not specify who the attackers were.
[9] General Seara was a retired French army Brigadier and called as an expert witness. No further details were provided in public sessions. 
This is an informal and unofficial summary of the trial hearings. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the CICC is not responsible for any omissions or inaccuracies contained within the following summary, which is provided for informational purposes only.

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