Today, 19 October 2016, Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its judgment in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido and found the five accused guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. These offences related to the false testimonies of defence witnesses in another case before the ICC: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Main Case).
The judgment was delivered during a public hearing in the presence of all five accused: Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo; his former counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba; Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo (a former member of Mr Bemba's Defence team); Fidèle Babala Wandu (a political ally of Mr Bemba in the Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo); and Narcisse Arido (a potential Defence witness in the Main Case who ultimately did not testify).
Findings: Trial Chamber VII found that Messrs Bemba, Kilolo and Mangenda were guilty, as co-perpetrators, for having jointly committed the offences of intentionally corruptly influencing 14 defence witnesses, and presenting their false evidence to the court.
Furthermore, Mr Bemba was found guilty of soliciting the giving of false testimony by the 14 defence witnesses; Mr Kilolo was found guilty of inducing the giving of false testimony by the 14 defence witnesses; and Mr Mangenda was found guilty of aiding the giving of false testimony by two defence witnesses and abetting the giving of false testimony by seven defence witnesses. Mr Mangenda was found not guilty of having aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the giving of false testimony by the five other witnesses.
In addition, the Chamber found Mr Babala guilty of aiding the corrupt influencing of two defence witnesses. However, Mr Babala was found not guilty of having aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the giving of false testimony by the 12 other witnesses and not guilty of presenting their false evidence to the court. Mr Babala was acquitted of those charges. Mr Arido was found guilty of corruptly influencing four defence witnesses. He was found not guilty of having aided, abetted or otherwise assisted in the presentation of false evidence by the four witnesses and not guilty of giving their false testimony to the court. Mr Arido was acquitted of those charges.
Appeal and Penalties: The Prosecutor and the Defence may appeal the judgment within 30 days. For these types of offences, according to the Rome Statute, the judges may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years and/or a fine. The Chamber shall pronounce the penalties at a subsequent stage.
Background: The trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido for offences against the administration of justice opened on 29 September 2015 before Trial Chamber VII. On 29 April 2016, the Chamber closed the submission of evidence in the case and the trial's closing oral statements took place between 31 May and 1 June 2016. In the course of 46 days of hearings, Trial Chamber VII heard 13 witnesses and expert witnesses called by the Prosecution, and 6 called by the defence teams for the five accused. The Chamber examined numerous evidentiary materials, including audio recordings of intercepted telephone communications, and documentary evidence. Trial Chamber VII issued 266 written orders and decisions and 80 oral decisions. Trial Chamber VII is composed of Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Judge Raul Cano Pangalangan.