Congo Watch: DR Congo: ICC chief prosecutor amends Bemba charges

Monday, April 06, 2009

DR Congo: ICC chief prosecutor amends Bemba charges

From Legal Brief 03 April 2009:
Chief prosecutor amends Bemba charges
Opposition politician Jean-Pierre Bemba says the International Criminal Court at The Hague will not prove him guilty of war crimes in his capacity as a military leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to a report on the IoL site, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo amended charges against Bemba to state that he was the military chief of fighters sent into the Central African Republic in 2002-2003 to prop up the crumbling regime of then President Ange-Felix Patasse. Members of Bemba's Congolese Liberation Movement are accused of violent crimes in the CAR, where the group has its support base. The report notes that the ICC last month asked Moreno-Ocampo to amend the charges and target Bemba as a military rather than a political leader.

Full report on the IoL site.
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Here is a copy of the report by AFP - via IoL 01 April 2009:
ICC cannot prove Bemba is guilty - party
Kinshasa - Opposition politician Jean-Pierre Bemba's party said on Wednesday that an international court in The Hague could not prove him guilty of war crimes in his capacity as a military leader in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo on Monday amended his charges against Bemba to state that he was military chief of fighters sent into the Central African Republic in 2002-2003 to prop up the crumbling regime of then president Ange-Felix Patasse.

Members of Bemba's Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) are accused of violent crimes in the CAR, bordering on the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the group has its support base.

The International Criminal Court on March 4 asked Moreno-Ocampo to amend the charges and target Bemba as a military rather than a political leader.

"We don't see how the prosecutor, even after changing his charge sheet, will prove that Bemba indeed commanded the troops sent to Central Africa," Francois Muamba, the MLC secretary-general, told reporters on Wednesday.

"We're confident and wait for what the judges will decide in June," Muamba said.

Pre-trial court sessions to decide whether there was a case against Bemba took place in mid-January, and judges were due to rule within 60 days, but that decision was postponed pending a new document from the prosecutor.

The initial charge sheet held Bemba politically responsible for crimes against humanity and war crimes within the CAR, "in conjunction with others or through them".

However, those charges had to be amended, when the court asked Moreno-Ocampo to reconsider the type of crime Bemba had allegedly committed, saying that on the strength of prosecution evidence the charges matched a different possible crime.

Under a warrant issued by the ICC, Bemba, 44, was arrested in Brussels on May 24, 2008.

His MLC was one of several rebel forces that fought the DR Congo government in a 1998-2003 civil war across the vast Central African country.

Bemba later became vice-president in a lengthy peace process. He lost a presidential election to Joseph Kabila in 2006.

During their intervention in the CAR, Bemba's forces failed to keep Patasse in office. He was ousted by current President Francois Bozize.

However, MLC forces ran riot in the capital Bangui and were accused of widespread atrocities. - AFP

1 Comments:

Blogger TheMalau said...

Wow, Ingrid!! Bless you for keeping up the Congo Watch!! I drifted away for a while, dealing with personal issues, but I am almost back. I'll drop you an email right now.

Monday, April 06, 2009  

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