6 July 2011

Central African Republic: Bemba Trial Continues in Private Session

The 25th witness in Jean-Pierre Bemba's trial at the International Criminal Court today continued giving testimony entirely in closed session. Last Friday, 'witness 169' started giving evidence after judges had announced that all his testimony would be in closed to the public.

According to prosecutors, 'witness 169' is an "important witness," who will provide evidence that the court has not heard from any of the previous witnesses. Judges ordered that once this witness completes testifying, an edited transcript of his testimony should be made public. Judges will have to approve the redactions before the transcript is published.

'Witness 169' is the 25th witness called by prosecutors since the trial of Mr. Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, started last November. Prosecutors plan to call another 15 witnesses in their bid to prove that Mr. Bemba is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity arising from his alleged failure to control his Movement for the Liberation of Congo soldiers, who prosecutors claim raped, killed, and pillaged during their deployment in the Central African Republic. The crimes, which he has denied committing, were allegedly carried out in 2002 and 2003.

'Witness 169' is scheduled to testify in closed session all of this week and the first two days of next week. Court will then break for a three week long summer recess.

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