The Movement for Liberation of Congo (MLC) Jean Pierre Bemba, who has been charged with War-Crimes as multiple rape and killings in the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) between 2002-2003. Have now this week gotten a favorable verdict in the International Criminal Court (ICC). By everything written in the Court Documents. The verdict is challenging the Trial Courts predetermination and the lack of evidence to back the supposed crimes Bemba committed. Even if all the crimes of MLC did in CAR. The evidence and the affidavits are not clear enough to indict him or prosecute him. That is why he is freed from the charges in this case against him. Though he has been charged with Witness Tampering, that might be a lead into why the verdict became what it is. As the ICC cannot establish legal grounds for his crimes. They are out of jurisdiction and out of order, to charge him and detain him, when the lack of evidence is there.
This here is a failure of previous ICC Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who indicted Bemba on the 13th October 2010 for dozens of War-Crimes counts of Rape, Murder, Pillaging and Crimes Against Humanity. If he had collected the evidence properly and haven’t let Bemba and associates off the hook. He wouldn’t have given Bemba the ability to tamper with the evidence. That is especially worrisome after he was caught in Belgium in 2008 and indicted in 2010. Later on the 19th October 2016 for crime of witness tampering in connection with the Bemba-Trial. That could give the ICC rights to keep Bemba in inside for 5 years. However, he has been behind bars since 2008. Therefore, the verdict today is dire to the ones that was in the midst of the MLC fire in Central African Republic in the time period of 2002-2003.
First, I will show what was written by the Witness tampering that the Bemba team did, before we look into the reason for the favorable verdict for Bemba. Let’s look!
di Rossella Pulvirenti wrote:
“After a meticulous reconstruction of the facts, the ICC concluded that Mr Bemba, who was detained in the Scheveningen prison at that time, gave directives on the content and the modalities of witnesses’ testimonies. He was helped by Kilolo, who implemented Bemba’s instructions. He illicitly coached and prepared defence witnesses in consultation with Mangenda, who liaised between Mr Bemba and Mr Kilolo. Almost all the fourteen defence witnesses received either money, other valuable goods or non-monetary promises as a ‘gift’ or a ‘token’ shortly before their testimonies before the ICC in the main case. In exchange for those ‘gifts’, witnesses were suppose to provide false testimony declaring that Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo military was not responsible for the alleged crimes and that the Congolese army was under the command of Central African generals” (…) “Trial Chamber VII condemned Bemba, Kilolo and Mangenda, as co-perpetrators, for corruptly influencing fourteen witnesses, giving false testimony and presenting evidence that they knew was false. Moreover, Bemba was found guilty of soliciting fourteen witnesses to provide false testimony, Kilolo was convicted for inducing those witnesses to give false testimony and Mangenda was found responsible of aiding and abetting the giving of false testimony by, respectively, two and seven defence witnesses. Mangenda was found not guilty of having aided, abetted or otherwise assisted Bemba and Kilolo in convincing the other five witnesses to provide false testimony. Finally, Babala was found guilty for aiding the other defendants for corrupting two of the fourteen defence witnesses. Finally, Arido was convicted of corruptly influencing four defence witnesses” (di Rossella Pulverinti – ‘The first case on witness tampering at the International Criminal Court: conviction for Bemba and four of his associates’ – GIURISPRUDENZA PENALE WEB, 2016, 11).
Outtakes from the Verdict on the 8th June 2018:
“Importantly, the Trial Chamber failed to properly analyse this evidence and address its potentially extremely low probative value. The Trial Chamber also failed to give even an indication of the approximate number of crimes that were committed at these locations. Thus, beyond the low number of individual instances of crimes found to have been established beyond reasonable doubt, it is unclear how widespread the criminal behaviour of the MLC troops in the 2002-2003 CAR Operation was; and, as a corollary, it is difficult to assess the proportionality of the measures taken. Furthermore, the Appeals Chamber notes the apparent discrepancy between the limited number of crimes for which Mr Bemba was held responsible under article 28 and the Trial Chamber’s assessment of the measures Mr Bemba should have taken, which appears to have been based on the much broader and more general ‘finding’ by the Trial Chamber concerning widespread MLC criminality in the CAR. Indeed, a finding that the measures deployed by a commander were insufficient to prevent or repress an extended crime wave, for example five hundred crimes, does not mean that these measures were also insufficient to prevent or repress the limited number of specific crimes, for example 20 crimes, for which the commander is ultimately convicted” (ICC-01/05-01/08-3636-Red 08-06-2018 75/80 EC A).
“Had the Trial Chamber properly assessed the measures that Mr Bemba took and 193.had the Trial Chamber properly considered the list of measures that it stated that Mr Bemba could have taken in light of the limitations that he faced in the specific circumstances in which he was operating, it would not have been open to it to reach the same conclusion. The errors the Trial Chamber made resulted in an unreasonable assessment of whether Mr Bemba failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures in the circumstances existing at the time” (ICC-01/05-01/08-3636-Red 08-06-2018 75/80 EC A).
“In these circumstances, the Appeals Chamber considers it appropriate to reverse 197.the conviction of Mr Bemba and to declare that the criminal acts listed above at paragraph 116 are outside the scope of this case and that the proceedings in that regard are discontinued” (ICC-01/05-01/08-3636-Red 08-06-2018 75/80 EC A).
You can clearly see that there is technicalities from the ICC that is the reason for the verdict. If the case was differently, if the Trial Chamber had collected their evidence and affidavits correctly. The case would have been differently, secondly, if the Bemba-Team was already charged with tampering with witnesses in the case. All of that would most likely make a difference for the case. However, the ICC are themselves to blame that Bemba is off the hook.
They have not done their job properly in the collecting of evidence, neither affidavits from witnesses. They have not done it after the statutes. That is why the MLC and Bemba possibly gotten away with their actions in the CAR.
It is not yet over, but this shows how important the collection of evidence, witness statements (affidavits) and actually have the ability to present the case after the statutes of the Court. Peace.