By Sophie van Leeuwen
There he sits, behind the courtroom window: Jean-Pierre Bemba. He puts on his glasses and listens to the severe accusations against him. He looks stoical and very serious.
“Liar! Liar!” Angry friends and party members of Bemba are sitting in the public gallery. Sometimes they laugh when accusations are being made. When the rapes come up, one man nods his head.
“A pregnant witness was raped by three men and became HIV-infected,” the Office of the Prosecutor states. “Following the rape, she lost her unborn baby, her fiancee abandoned her and she tried to kill herself.”
Bemba, a successful businessman and former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was also a rebel leader, the commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). Click here for an overview of the Bemba case.
Michel Bayela represents the MLC in the Netherlands and keeps opposition members informed about the ICC trial. “This is an international plot against Bemba,” he states.
Photo: Michael Bayela (Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)
This week, it was announced that Bemba and his defense team would face a new trial at the ICC. It was a great disappointment for Bemba, who was considering running for president in the 2016 elections in DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo).
“The political extermination of Bemba is complete,” says Jean Flamme, who represents Bemba’s lawyer Aimé Kilolo Musamba, recently arrested for witness tampering in the Bemba trial.
Kilolo stands besides his lawyer and adds: “Today, I’m watching the trial. I have to accept it. But I have confidence in the new Bemba defense team.”
Photo: Aimé Kilolo (Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)
During the first day of the closing statements, many atrocities were presented by the Office of the Prosecutor. Like the murder of a man by MLC soldiers, who cut off his penis and stuffed it in his eyes.
According to the Prosecutor, Bemba was in total control of his men. He was a commander with the authority to withdraw his troops. He could order arrests and investigations.
He issued hs orders via satellite telephone and the radio. The OTP says Bemba knew about the atrocities and did nothing to prevent rape, pillage and murder, allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (2002-2003).
Tomorrow it’s up to the defence to make its closing statements. The Bemba trial will start at 9.30 at the ICC in The Hague.
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The trees in front the ICC have already lost their leaves (Sophie van Leeuwen/Justice Hub)