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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: 4898 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: 15 - 19 October 2012

In the week commencing 15 October 2012, the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba resumed after a three weeks pause due to the non-appearance of two witnesses; witness D04-07 and witness D04-11. This week, two witnesses testified: Witness D04-50 (under protective measures), a former staff member of the Presidential Guard of the CAR, and witness D04-57 (under protective measures), a member of the security forces under Patassé’s regime

Weekly Summary 15 - 19 October 2012

15 October 2012
The
 defense commenced its questioning of the sixth defense witness: witness D04-50. Most testimony was given in closed session
  • MLC uniforms same as the USP: The witness testified that members of the MLC wore the same uniforms as the Presidential Guard (USP) of president Patassé, as the USP allegedly provided the MLC with uniforms upon the arrival of the MLC at the Ubangi River on 30 October 2002.
  • Bozizé’s rebels occupied Bangui and suburbs from 25 October 2002: The witness explained that Bozizé’s rebels arrived in Bangui on 25 October 2002 and that they occupied the city and suburbs for five days until forces loyal to Patassé, including the newly arrived MLC troops launched an offensive on 30 October 2002.
  • Knowledge of the occupation by Bozizé’s rebels: The witness explained that Bozizé’s rebels’ occupation of Bangui came to his knowledge through radio and that his chief in staff, who they were in direct contact with, gave positions of the enemy. Furthermore the witness added that he held the walkie-talkie through which the information was given.

16 October 2012
The trial continued with the cross-examination of witness D04-50 by the prosecution and the legal representatives for victims, who concluded their cross-examination.

  • Bemba did not command his troops: Asked by both the prosecution as well as legal representative, Ms. Douzima, the witness testified that Bemba did not command his troops as the MLC, along with forces loyal to Patassé, fell under the command of the Central African authorities: General Mazzi, Colonel Lengbe, and General Bombayake.
  • MLC led by the USP: During the cross-examination by the prosecution, the witness alleged that the MLC troops were led by the USP during operations, because the MLC troops did not know the terrain of the CAR. The witness further alleged that the USP also worked in collaboration with the FACA[1].
During cross-examination by the Legal Representative for Victims, the witness provided testimony on:
  • Many armed groups committed atrocities: When asked by the legal representative for victims whether he was aware of crimes committed by the MLC troops, the witness alleged that many groups involved in the conflict committed atrocities. The witness claimed that he did not see “with his own eyes” any members of the MLC committing any crimes.
 
17 October 2012
The trial continued with the questioning of the seventh defense witness, witness D04-57, by the defense. The witness did not say what position he held but indicated that he was a member of the security forces under the Patassé regime.

  • Congolese nationals in Bozizé’s rebel force: The witness testified that General Bozizé’s rebel forces contained DRC nationals.
  • Bemba ordered the MLC soldiers to obey the CAR generals: The witness testified that the MLC troops, who arrived in the CAR on 30 October 2002, were under the command of 'Central African authorities'.
  • Bemba visit to CAR: The witness explained that Bemba, during a visit to the CAR, met his soldiers at a school in the suburb of  PK12[2]
  • Bozizé’s rebels occupied Bangui and neighboring areas: The witness stated that Bozizé’s rebels occupied Bangui as well as several neighboring areas on 25 October 2002 in an attempt to gain power. They occupied the suburbs of Boy-Rabé, PK12, Gobongo, the 4th arrondissement[3], the 8th arrondissement, and the road to Damara. According to the witness it was not before the arrival of the MLC on 30 October 2002 that the rebels were forced out.
  • DRC nationals and deserters from the CAR amongst Bozizé’s rebels: The witness explained that Bozizé’s rebels included deserters from FACA (he also called them “mercenaries from Chad”) as well as some Congolese recruited by Bozizé who came to Bangui.
  • Language spoken amongst the Bozizé’s rebels: The witness stated that some of Bozizé’s rebels spoke Sango[4] some spoke the Chadilanguage, and some spoke Lingala[5] The witness testified that he knew about the languages spoken amongst Bozizé’s rebels as he was in a position of responsibility and he received intelligence from informants, adding that he sent out individuals to collect intelligence amongst those who followed Bozizé.
  • Arrival of the MLC troops and reception: The witness testified that he learned about the arrival of the MLC troops over a walkie-talkie. The witness stated that he traveled to the riverbank to receive them, where, he alleged, uniforms, weapons, ammunition, and the soldiers’ allowance were provided to the MLC by the FACA.
  • Bemba’s commanders had Thuraya satellite phones: According to the witness Bemba’s commanders in the CAR were provided with Thuraya satellite phones that they used to communicate with General Mazzi, Colonel Lengbe, and General Bombayake, to whom they reported.

18 October 2012
The Prosecution commenced its cross-examination of witness D04-57.

  • Congolese and deserters from the CAR amongst Bozizé’s rebels: The witness testified that rebels led by François Bozizé recruited DRC nationals resident in the Central African Republic well before the arrival of Mr. Bemba’s troops into that country on 25 October 2002. The witness testified that many of the Congolese nationals in question worked as shoe shiners in Bangui and were recruited from PK5[6] . The witness stated that these recruits, together with Chadian mercenaries, helped General Bozizé to capture power in March 2003.
  • The MLC did not outnumber the local loyalist forces: The defense witness stated that the MLC troops deployed in the country did not outnumber Patassé’s local loyalist forces.
  • Areas Bozizé’s rebels did not occupy from 25 October 2002: The witness explained that the only neighboring areas of Bangui that the rebels did not control during the five days of occupation from October 25 2002 were 36 Villas, PK5, Fatima, Muskine, and Petevo.

19 October 2012
The prosecution and both of the Legal Representatives for Victims( Marie Edith Douzima-Lawson and Assingambi Zarambaud) concluded their cross-examination of witness D04-57.

Upon questioning by the Prosecution the witess provided insight on:
  • Bemba addressed the MLC soldiers in French: The witness explained that when Bemba met his soldiers at a school in the suburb of PK 12 and ordered them to obey the authority of General Mazzi, Colonel Lengbe, and General Bombayake, he addressed the soldiers in French and Colonel Lengbe translated into Lingala. When asked if he knew why Bemba spoke to his soldiers in French (rather than Lingala which Bemba can speak) the witness answered that he did not know. Furthermore the witness did not remember the exact date of Bemba’s visit, other than that it was in November 2002.
  • Bemba ordered the MLC soldiers to obey the CAR generals: The witness explained that on Bemba’s visit in Bangui, Bemba told his soldiers to respect the authority of the local generals. According to the witness Bemba “gestured to General Bombayake and colonel Lengbe was beside him”.
Legal Representatives of Victims:
The key testimony given by the witness was mainly a reiteration of the testimony given by the witness regarding Bemba's visit to Bangui in November 2002. However, the witness also provided testimony regarding:
  • No dead bodies along the road:  Following a question by Mr. Zarambaud, the witness testified that when he accompanied Bemba during his visit to Bangui in November 2002, he did not see any bodies along the road that Bemba used.


[1] FACA is short for the Central African Armed Forces.
[2] PK12 (point Kilometre 12) is a suburb of Bangui where the Prosecutor claims some of Bemba‟s alleged crimes took place.and ordered them to obey the authority of General Mazzi, Colonel Lengbe, and General Bombayake. According to the witness General Bombayake and Colonel Lengbe were present when Bemba addressed his soldiers.
[3] The city of Bangui consists of 8 urban districts (“arrondissements”). the 8th arrondissement, and the road to Damara. According to the witness it was not before the arrival of the MLC on 30 October 2002 that the rebels were forced out.
[4] Sango is a Central African language widely spoken in Bangui.
[5] Lingala is a language native to the Democratic Republic of Congo where it is predominantly spoken.
[6] PK5 (point Kilometre 5) is a suburb of Bangui. .
 
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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