Arusha — A second member of Congolese Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba's defence team on Thursday made an initial appearance before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, suspected of witness tampering in the Bemba trial. Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo was arrested in the Netherlands on 23 November 2013 and transferred to the ICC detention centre on 4 December 2013.
Mangenda appeared before a single judge who verified his identity, and that he was properly informed of the charges against him. The Court will then set a date for confirmation of charges hearings, after which judges will decide if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial.
The suspect is a member of Bemba's defence team and case manager. Bemba is on trial before the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed by fighters of his MLC former rebel movement in the Central African Republic in 2002-2003.
Mangenda is the fourth of five people suspected of witness tampering in the case to appear before the Court. The five include Bemba himself. The sixth person has been arrested in France but not yet transferred to the ICC.