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Opening of Bemba trial: Latest media statements, related newscoverage and audiovisual materials
19 Nov 2010
Please find below the latest information related to the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) and in particular to the International Criminal Court's third trial in the case against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo which will open on Monday 22 November at 2:30 p.m. in The Hague.
This message includes the latest media statements (I), news articles (II) and audiovisual materials (III).
Unless otherwise indicated, all translations are informal translations provided by the CICC Secretariat. Please also take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
I LATEST MEDIA STATEMENTS
1. MEMBERS MEDIA STATEMENTS
i. "ICC: Trial Opens for Congo's Ex-Vice President -Bemba Case Relates to Central African Republic Coup in 2002", Media advisory, Human Rights Watch,19 November 19, 2010, www.hrw.org
"Judges of Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) will begin hearing evidence on Monday, November 22, 2010, in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, a former vice president of Congo, rebel leader, and leader of Congo's main opposition party.
The ICC has charged Bemba with three counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity for murder, rape, and pillage allegedly committed by his Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) rebel forces in the Central African Republic (CAR). Bemba and his MLC troops were invited to intervene in 2002 by the then president, Ange-Félix Patassé, to help put down a coup. The coup was successful and the rebel leader, François Bozizé, became president. In December 2004, he asked the ICC to investigate the crimes committed during the rebellion.
The Bemba trial will be the ICC's first stemming from its investigation of serious crimes in the CAR. The trial is expected to last several months.
"Bemba is the highest-profile suspect currently on trial at the ICC, but he is not the only one responsible for the atrocities in the CAR," said Geraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, the international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. "The ICC should consider other prosecutions stemming from the coup, including, if the evidence warrants it, against former President Patassé."
The trial will start with opening statements by the prosecutor, Bemba's defense team, and the representatives of victims participating in the proceedings. Victims in the CAR have repeatedly called for justice for crimes committed during the coup, in 2002 and 2003. The court has accepted 135 victims as participants in this trial. An additional 1,200 applications from other victims are under consideration by the judges.
There is considerable interest in this case in the CAR, as well as in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, because Bemba is such a high-profile personality there. Expectations are high, and so are rumors and speculation. The ICC should provide regular updates about the trial as it progresses, and organize outreach meetings locally to air and debate questions people want to raise, Human Rights Watch said.
Bemba is not being prosecuted in this trial in relation to crimes committed by his MLC troops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. ...."
ii. "Q&A on the Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba", Human Rights Watch, 19 November 2010, http://coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/QABemba_HRW_19Nov2010.pdf
iii. Q&A on the Bemba trial, FIDH, November 2010: http://www.fidh.org/The-Bemba-Case-Questions-and-Answers
iv. "BEMBA TRIAL TO OPEN IN THE HAGUE: High Expectations Surround Trial Against Former DRC Vice-President For Alleged Crimes in the Central African Republic," Press release, Coalition for the International Criminal Court, 18 November 2010, http://www.coalitionfortheicc.org/documents/Opening_of_Bemba_TRial_CICC_18Nov10_EN.pdf
v. "Opening of the Trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba: The Self-sacrifice and Courage of Central African Victims Finally Rewarded," Press release, International Federation for Human Rights, 18 November 2010, http://www.fidh.org/Opening-of-the-Trial-of-Jean-Pierre-Bemba-The
B. ICC MEDIA STATEMENTS
i. "Press Conference on the opening of the Jean-Pierre Bemba trial on Monday, 22 November," ICC media advisory, 18 November 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/Go?id=ecaf76d0-a9df-42a2-9009-f43ab13a77bc&lan=en-GB
"A press conference on the commencement of the trial in the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is scheduled on Monday, 22 November, 2010, at 11:00 a.m., in the Press Briefing room of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The ICC Registrar, Silvana Arbia, will open the press conference. The ICC Prosecutor, the Counsel for the Defence, and the Legal Representatives of the Victims will be available to make short statements, after which there will be an opportunity for journalists attending the event in The Hague to ask questions. Journalists from Bangui (Central African Republic) and Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) will also be participating via videoconference from the ICC field offices in those locations.
Web streaming and satellite broadcast (real time) of the press conference will be available [at http://livestream.xs4all.nl/icc5.asx ]
... The trial in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is scheduled to commence on Monday, 22 November, at 2:30 p.m. The accused is allegedly criminally responsible, as a person effectively acting as military commander within the meaning of article 28(a) of the Rome Statute, for two crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging), allegedly committed in the territory of the Central African Republic during the period from approximately 26 October, 2002 to 15 March, 2003.
After his arrest by the Belgian authorities in accordance with a warrant of arrest issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC, he was transferred to the Court on 3 July, 2008. He is currently being detained at the ICC Detention Centre in The Hague.
His trial will be held before Trial Chamber III, composed of Judge Sylvia Steiner (Brazil), Presiding, Judge Joyce Aluoch (Kenya) and Judge Kuniko Ozaki (Japan). These independent magistrates will ensure that the trial is fair and expeditious and is conducted with full respect for the rights of the defence, the equality of arms and the principle of adversarial debate, having further due regard for the protection of victims and witnesses.
The trial of Mr. Bemba is expected to take several months. At the end of the hearings, the judges of Trial Chamber III will give their decision within a "reasonable period of time". This decision will be pronounced in public: it will acquit or condemn the accused. The various parties to the trial will, if need be, be able to appeal the decision before the Appeals Chamber of the Court.
Further information on the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo can be found [here http://www.icc-cpi.int/Menus/Go?id=2667c8bf-a95b-4795-be34-17a54aaf019d&lan=en-GB ]
Audio and video summaries of the press conference and opening statements (audio: floor channel only), will be available later in the afternoon on 22 and 23 November. The French-language radio and television programme "In the Courtroom" will be available for downloading and on [ICC YouTube channel http://www.youtube.com/IntlCriminalCourt ] on Wednesday, 24 November, in the afternoon.
Web streaming of the opening of the trial
The hearings will be held in open session unless ordered otherwise. The proceedings can be followed with a 30-minute delay on the ICC website at:
French: http://livestream.xs4all.nl/icc2.asx ..."
ii. "Appeals Chamber directs Trial Chamber III to conduct a new review of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo's detention", ICC press release, 19 November 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/1727F18A-1BFA-4348-A49B-8FEADEA6FE27.htm
"On Friday, 19 November, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) directed Trial Chamber III to conduct a new review of the ruling on the detention of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, reversing the Trial Chamber's decision of 28 July, 2010. Until and subject to that new review, Mr Bemba will remain in detention.
Presiding Judge Akua Kuenyehia indicated, in the oral summary of the Judgment read in an open session, that the Appeals Chamber, after careful deliberation, unanimously decided to reverse the impugned decision. Under the Rome Statute, Chambers have to review periodically - at least once every 120 days - their ruling on the accused's detention. In the judgment delivered today, the Appeals Chamber holds that, in carrying out the review, Chambers have to asses whether there has been a change in the circumstances supporting the ruling on detention. The Appeals Chamber finds that the review carried out by Trial Chamber III was insufficient because it restricted itself to only assessing the alleged new circumstances which Mr Bemba had presented.
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is allegedly criminally responsible, as a person effectively acting as military commander within the meaning of article 28(a) of the Rome Statute, for crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging), allegedly committed in the territory of the Central African Republic during the period from approximately 26 October, 2002 to 15 March, 2003. The opening of the trial is scheduled for 22 November, 2010."
II. RELATED NEWS
i. "Congolese warlord on trial in The Hague", by Aaron Gray-Block, Reuters, 19 November 2010, http://af.reuters.com/article/drcNews/idAFLDE6AI1BB20101119?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
"A Congolese warlord goes on trial at the International Criminal Court next week, accused of letting his troops kill and rape hundreds during a coup attempt in the Central African Republic....
Brigid Inder, executive director of the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice, said the trial 'presents an opportunity for the court to say ... to women, that crimes of sexual violence are important enough to prosecute those who commit such acts.' Inder's organisation is a non-governmental organisation that supports the ICC's work....
Bemba's trial is the ICC's third trial and Mariana Pena, a panel representative at the ICC for the International Federation for Human Rights, expects more than 1,000 victims to participate in the proceedings to present evidence via their lawyers. That would be many more than in the first two trials at the ICC, where victims have the right to seek reparations if suspects are convicted...."
ii. "ICC starts trial of former vice president Bemba" ["ICC start proces tegen ex-vicepresident Bemba"], ANP, 17 November 2010, http://www.nu.nl/buitenland/2381118/icc-start-proces-ex-vicepresident-bemba.html [Dutch]
"According to human rights organization Women's Initiative for Gender Justice, rape was used in a political struggle [in the CAR situation] as leverage against the people: soldiers went from house to house to intimidate people...Women and young girls were raped in front of their families."
iii. "DRC-Central African Republic: Bemba finally in the ICC dock", IRIN News, 19 November 2010, http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?Reportid=91134
"The victims of alleged war crimes in the Central African Republic (CAR) will get their day in court on 22 November when the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba opens in The Hague....
The case focuses heavily on sexual violence allegedly committed by MLC soldiers who were invited into the CAR by the then-president Ange-Felix Patassé to help put down a coup. The coup leader, former army chief Francois Bozizé, overthrew Patassé and in 2004 called in the ICC to investigate.
'Patassé is mentioned regularly [by the ICC], but he has not been charged,' said Mariana Pena, the International Federation for Human Rights permanent representative at the ICC. 'It doesn't look like they are actively investigating other perpetrators [in CAR]. This is a concern for victims in CAR who don't understand why one has been tried and one has not.'...
'The prosecutor has not said formally he isn't going to prosecute Bemba [over these allegations], but his trial is starting and there have been no attempts over the last two or three years to charge him with crimes in DRC, so you read from the context there is no intention to prosecute,' said Pena...."
i. "Factbox: Who is Jean-Pierre Bemba?", Reuters, 19 November 2010, http://af.reuters.com/article/metalsNews/idAFLDE6AI1BI20101119
ii. "November 22 trial date set for DR Congo ex-vice president", Expatica, 21 October 2010, http://www.expatica.com/nl/news/dutch-news/november-22-trial-date-set-for-dr-congo-ex-vice-president_104817.html
iii. "November 22 trial date set for DR Congo ex-vice president", AFP, 21 October 2010, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5icT-gzCHhr4nTECxrj3sSrMky8Fw?docId=CNG.5eaf1ab9208611e8ecb689fbb6a106a9.9e1
vi. "International Criminal Court says trial of former Congo VP Jean-Pierre Bemba to start Nov. 22", Canada East/AP, 21 October 2010, http://www.canadaeast.com/rss/article/1272575
v. "ICC Rejects Appeal in Congo War Crimes Trial", PBS - Wide Angle, 20 October 2010, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/blog/icc-rejects-appeal-in-congo-war-crimes-trial/6284/
vi. "Int'l court rejects ex-Congo VP war crimes appeal", Business Week/AP, 19 October 2010, http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D9IUM1300.htm
vii. "Bemba Casts Shadow on Upcoming DRC Elections", by Anjana Sundaram, Blake Evans-Pritchard, Heritier Maila and François Kadima, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 19 November 2010, http://iwpr.net/report-news/bemba-casts-shadow-upcoming-drc-elections
viii. "22 novembre 2010 : Bemba, une vidéoconférence pour les médias de Kinshasa," Le Phare, 19 November 2010,
III. RELATED AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS
i. [Audio] The ICC Registrar, Silvana Arbia, answers questions on the length of the Court procedures, Radio Interactive pour la Justice, 3 November 2010, http://www.irfj.org/2010/11/10-icc-registrar-silvana-arbia-speaks-on-this-program/
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