ICC confirms war crimes case against former DR Congo leader

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former DR Congo Vice-President on trial for war crimes.

19 October 2010 – The International Criminal Court (ICC) today confirmed the case against a former senior official of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) charged with war crimes allegedly committed in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR), including rape, murder and pillaging.

In February, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo’s defence team challenged the admissibility of the case against him on the grounds of respecting the complementarity between the ICC’s work and that of authorities in the CAR, arguing that he should not be tried before the Court.

The Court’s appeals chamber today confirmed an earlier trial chamber’s dismissal of an appeal by Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, It cited the Rome Statue, which set up the ICC, which provides that a case is inadmissible when it has been investigated by a State which has jurisdiction over it, and the State decides not to prosecute the person concerned, unless that decision results from the unwillingness or inability of the State genuinely to prosecute.

The appeals chamber ruled that the CAR courts’ decisions were not “a decision not to prosecute” under the ICC terms, since they ruled that the case should be referred by the CAR authorities to the ICC.

The ICC’s pre-trial chamber confirmed last year that Mr. Bemba had the “necessary criminal intent” when in 2002 he ordered his armed group, the Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC), into the CAR to back up embattled leader Ange-Félix Patassé. It said that MLC fighters committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during that mission, with Mr. Bemba “effectively acting as military commander.”

He was transferred to the ICC in July 2008 after being arrested by Belgian police.


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