Surrender of Jean-Pierre Bemba to the International Criminal Court


Situation: Central African Republic
Case: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

Today, 3 July 2008, the Belgian authorities surrendered and transferred Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, to the International Criminal Court. He arrived at 12:45 at the detention centre of the Court.

“The Court appreciates the steps taken by the Belgian authorities in the enforcement of the warrant of arrest, surrender and transfer of Mr Bemba, as well as the cooperation of the Dutch authorities to transport him to the detention centre,” said the Registrar Ms Silvana Arbia.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, alleged national of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), aged about 45 years old, was arrested on 24 May 2008 by the Belgian authorities following a Court’s warrant of arrest was issued under seal on 23 May. Furthermore, on 10 June, the judges of Pre-Trial Chamber III requested the Kingdom of Belgium to surrender Bemba Gombo to the Court and a second warrant of arrest was issued replacing the previous one.

A Court’s official witnessed the handover and received all pertinent documents from the Belgian authorities. Mr Bemba Gombo was twice examined by doctors in Brussels, before departure and upon his arrival at the prison. Doctors confirmed that he is in good health. He was admitted to the detention centre, informed of his rights, including the right to choose counsel from the list of counsels established by the Registrar.

Mr Bemba, President and Commander in Chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC), is alleged to be criminally responsible for five counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the Central African Republic from 25 October 2002 to 15 March 2003.

Thus Jean-Pierre Bemba is allegedly criminally responsible, jointly with another person or through other persons, within the meaning of article 25(3)(a) of the Rome Statute, for:

- three counts of crimes against humanity: rape (article 7(1)(g)), torture (article 7(1)(f)), and murder (article 7(1)(a));

- five counts of war crimes: rape (article 8(2)(e)(vi)), torture (article 8(2)(c)(i)), committing outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment (article 8(2)(c)(ii)), pillaging a town or place (article 8(2)(e)(v)), and murder (article 8(2)(c)(i)).

Mr Bemba’s first appearance will be announced in due course

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Victims and witnesses

One of the great innovations of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence is the series of rights granted to victims. For the first time in the history of international criminal justice, victims have the possibility under the Statute to present their views and observations before the Court.

Participation before the Court may occur at various stages of proceedings and may take different forms. Although it will be up to the judges to give directions as to the timing and manner of participation.

Participation in the Court's proceedings will in most cases take place through a legal representative and will be conducted ”in a manner which is not prejudicial or inconsistent with the rights of the accused and a fair and impartial trial”.

The victim-based provisions within the Rome Statute provide victims with the opportunity to have their voices heard and to obtain, where appropriate, some form of reparation for their suffering. It is this balance between retributive and restorative justice that will enable the ICC, not only to bring criminals to justice but also to help the victims themselves obtain justice.



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