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Confirmation hearing in the Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

The hearing on confirmation of charges in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is scheduled to commence on next Monday (12 January 2009) before the Pretrial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court.

         The case derives from the situation in the Central African Republic. Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested in the Kingdom of Belgium on 24 May 2008 and on 3 July 2008 he was surrendered and transferred to International Criminal Court. Article 61(7) of the Rome Statute states that the ‘Pre-Trial Chamber shall, on the basis of the [confirmation] hearing, determine whether there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed each of the crimes charged’. ICC fact sheet on the Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo notes that:

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and its MLC forces , allegedly carried out systematic or widespread attacks against the civilian population and committed murder, rape, torture, outrages upon personal dignity and pillaging, particularly in the localities known as PK 12 and PK 22, in the cities of Bangui, the capital, Mongoumba, Bossangoa, Damara and Bossembélé.

In this way, the Pre-Trial Chamber III considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Jean‐Pierre Bemba is criminally responsible, jointly with another person or through other persons, under article 25(3)(a) of the Statute, for:  (i)  rape as a crime against humanity, punishable under article 7(1)(g); (ii) rape as a war crime, punishable under article 8(2)(e)(vi); (iii) torture as a crime against humanity, punishable under article 7(1)(f); (iv) torture as a war crime, punishable under article 8(2)(c)(i); (v) committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, as a war crime, punishable under article 8(2)(c)(ii); (vi) murder as a crime against humanity, punishable under article 7(1)(a); (vii) murder as a war crime, punishable under article 8(2)(c)(i);  (viii) pillaging a town or place as a war crime, punishable under article 8(2)(e).

          The Office of the Prosecutor will be represented by the Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor and Petra Kneuer, Senior Trial Lawyer. Counsels for Defence are: Nkwebe Liriss, Karim A.A. Khan, and Aimé Kilolo-Musamba. Mr Bemba has not been awarded legal aid and is therefore privately funding his case. Nkwebe Liriss is representing him on pro bono basis. The Pre-Trial Chamber III includes Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova (Presiding Judge), Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, and Judge Mauro Politi.

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