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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 24 - 28 June 2013

This week one witness testified, witness DO4-06 (Defence witness). The witness is a former FACA
[1]  soldier loyal to former CAR President Ange-Félix Patassé. The witness testified with protective measures of face and voice distortion.
 
24 June 2013
The Prosecution, led by lawyer Mr. Massimo Scaliotti, continued its cross-examination of Witness DO4-06:
  • Coordination between the FACA loyalist soldiers and the MLC[2] soldiers during the conflict in Bangui in 2002-2003: The witness stated that the MLC were merged with and were under the control of the FACA army.
  • The behavior of MLC soldiers and their relationship with FACA loyalist soldiers during the conflict in Bangui in 2002-2003: The witness stated that he was not aware of any incidents reported on 5th November 2002 in a local Bangui newspaper[3] alleging that MLC soldiers were pillaging the houses of civilians in the 36 Villas neighbourhood of Bangui. The witness also stated that he was neither aware of incidents whereby FACA soldiers tried to protect civilians’ houses from MLC soldiers nor aware of an incident whereby FACA soldiers protected the houses of two CAR Ministers from the alleged pillaging of MLC soldiers. 
  • The conduct of MLC soldiers in PK12 and PK13 in Bangui during the 2002-2003 conflict: The witness stated that he was not aware of any crimes allegedly committed by MLC soldiers since the arrival of the MLC soldiers in PK12 and PK13 in 2002, that he never heard anything in the media about the alleged commission of crimes by the MLC and that during the conflict, he was not reading newspapers or listening to the news.
During examination by the Legal Representative for Victims by Mr. Assingambi Zarambaud and Mrs. Marie-Edith Douzima-Lawson, the witness provided insight on:
  • The relationship between General Bombayake[4] and former CAR President Patassé during the 2002-2003 conflict in Bangui: The witness stated that during the 2002-2003 conflict, Bombayake visited Patassé every day at Patassé’s residence, Bombayake was in communication with Patassé at all times and all meetings between Bombayake and Patassé were held at Patassé’s residence.
  • The conduct of MLC soldiers at the Support Regiment [5] in 2002: The witness stated that whilst the MLC were at the Support Regiment, the MLC did not loot any items such musical instruments or computers and that he never heard of any incidents whereby the MLC allegedly stripped, disarmed and beat up 30 FACA (Patassé loyalist) soldiers.
  • The hierarchy and structure of the FACA (Patassé-loyalist) army during the conflict in CAR 2002-2003: The witness stated that the FACA army comprised a mixed group of soldiers including FACA loyalist soldiers, MLC soldiers and Abdoulaye Miskine’s[6] soldiers. The witness stated that General André Mazzi, the Chief of Staff of FACA at the time, was the Commander and in charge of the fighting but that Mazzi reported back to General Bombayake. The witness stated that Bombayake was neither fighting nor in charge of the men fighting in the field but was instead in charge of the CAR Presidential Security.
  • The conduct of Pro-Patassé soldiers that were fighting under FACA in the conflict in 2002-2003 in CAR: The witness alleged that Abdoulaye Miskine’s soldiers perpetrated crimes in the PK13 area of Bangui during the conflict and were uncontrollable.
During re-direct examination by Defense lawyer Mr. Peter Haynes, the witness provided insight on:
  • The conduct of Bozizé’s troops in Bossembélé[7] and Bossongoa[8] during the conflict in CAR in 2002-2003: The witness alleged that Bozizé’s men massacred people in these two places.
25 June 2013
The Prosecution, represented by Horejah Bala-Gaye continued its cross-examination of Defense witness D04-03.
  • The movement of the witness’ unit: The Prosecution challenged the witness’ previous testimony that from Bangui, the witness and his unit travelled to Bossembélé via Yaloke[9] using the main road-the Prosecution stated that such travel was impossible because using the main road, one gets to Bossembélé before Yaloke. The witness then stated that he was wrong when he said that he and his unit travelled to Bossembélé via Yaloke. However, the witness maintained that he and his unit travelled from Bossongoa to Patangafo[10] to Owandago[11] and finally to Bouca[12] despite the Prosecution stating that Bouca is closer to Bossangoa than to Patangafo or Owandago. The witness’ response was  that in war, detours and by-passes are taken and that one may not necessarily take the direct route to a place.  
  • The composition of the witness’ unit and FACA in general: The witness stated that his unit and the FACA in general comprised different groups that worked together including the FACA loyalist soldiers from CAR, MLC soldiers, soldiers from the CAR Presidential Guard (the USP) and Abdoulaye Miskine’s[13] soldiers. The witness also stated that Miskine’s soldiers were part of FACA, unified with FACA, fighting on behalf of FACA and wore the same uniform as the FACA loyalist soldiers.
During examination by the Legal Representatives for Victims (Mrs. Marie-Edith Douzima-Lawson and Mr. Assingambi Zarambaud), the witness provided insight on:
  • The training that the witness received in 2002 before fighting in the conflict in CAR: The witness stated that he was recruited by FACA on the 27th October 2002 and that on that same day, he and other recruits received training on how to handle weapons, were told who the enemies were, told to obey hierarchical leaders and told to protect their fellow soldiers. However, the witness stated that there was not enough time for the new recruits to be taught how a soldier should behave towards civilians or about army discipline.
  • The behavior of the witness’ unit in PK12 and Boy-Rabé[14]  during the conflict in CAR in 2002-2003: The witness alleged that he saw Miskine’s soldiers from his unit commit crimes. In particular the witness alleged that when the witness and his unit went into civilians’ houses to look for men to recruit as soldiers, they would sometimes find that the men of those houses were not present and that in such cases, the soldiers in his unit would think that those men had joined Bozizé’s army. Consequently, Miskine’s soldiers would allegedly brutalise the wives of those men. The witness then stated that he never saw MLC soldiers in his particular unit committing rapes.
  • Identifying various groups within FACA: The witness explained that despite the fact that all soldiers fighting under FACA wore the same uniform, he was able to identify the various groups within the FACA (i.e. MLC, Miskine’s men etc) on the basis of language because although Sango (the primary language spoken in the CAR), was the commonly used language within FACA as a whole, the way the soldiers from the various groups within FACA spoke it was different. The witness stated that he was also able to identify the soldiers from the various groups within the FACA because he spent time with them.
26, 27 & 28 June 2013
No Hearings

 

[1] Forces Armées Centrafricaines. The armed forces of the Central African Republic (CAR). 
[2] The Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo is a political party in Democratic Republic of the Congo.
[3] Le Citroyen Newspaper
[4] The leader of the CAR Presidential Guard - the USP
[5] The Support Regiment was the place in CAR where the MLC soldiers were initially taken by the CAR officials upon the soldiers’ arrival at a naval base in the CAR. (Witness DO4-06 stated that General Bombayake received the MLC soldiers at the naval base and took the soldiers to the Support Regiment where the soldiers then received uniforms and weapons.)
[6] Abdoulaye Miskine: A man of Chadian decent with his own militia that he took into CAR to fight on the side of Patassé.
[7] Bossembélé is a small town in Yaloke-Bossembele, in the Ombella-M'Poko Prefecture (the same Prefecture in which the town of Bangui is found) in the CAR.
[8] Bossangoa is the capital of Ouham, one of the 14 Prefectures of the CAR.
[9] Yaloke is a town in the Yaloke-Bossembele sub-prefecture in the Ombella-M'Poko prefecture of the Central African Republic.
[10] Correct spelling is unknown.
[11] Correct spelling is unknown.
[12] Bouca is a town located in the CAR prefecture of Ouham. The same prefecture in which Bossangoa town is found.
[13] Abdoulaye Miskine: A man of Chadian decent with his own militia that he took into CAR to fight on the side of former President Patassé’s.
[14] Boy-Rabé is a large market area in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.


 
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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