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Press Release :

Bemba et al. case: Trial Chamber VII issues sentences for five convicted persons

ICC-CPI-20170322-PR1287

Judges of Trial Chamber VII delivering their decision on the sentencing in the Bemba et al. case during a public hearing held in ICC Courtroom 1 on 22 March 2017 © ICC-CPI
Judges of Trial Chamber VII delivering their decision on the sentencing in the Bemba et al. case during a public hearing held in ICC Courtroom 1 on 22 March 2017 © ICC-CPI

On 22 March 2017, Trial Chamber VII of the International Criminal Court (ICC) delivered its decision on sentencing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido at a public hearing held at the seat of the Court in The Hague, The Netherlands, in the presence of the convicted persons. The Prosecution and the Defence may appeal the decision on sentence within 30 days.

On 19 October 2016, Trial Chamber VII found Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. These offences related to the false testimonies of defence witnesses in another case against Mr Bemba before the ICC. Trial Chamber VII is composed of Judge Bertram Schmitt, Presiding Judge, Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and Judge Raul Pangalangan.

Imposed penalties:

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was sentenced in total to one additional year imprisonment. No deduction of time previously spent in detention was ordered, mainly, since the time to be considered had already been deducted by Trial Chamber III in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (‘Main Case’). The Chamber ordered that the sentence be served consecutively to Mr Bemba’s existing sentence in the Main Case. In addition, the Chamber fined Mr Bemba EUR 300,000, to be paid to the Court within 3 months of its decision and thereafter transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims.

In an opinion, Judge Pangalangan concurred in the result of one additional year of imprisonment but wrote separately on: (i) giving Mr Bemba full sentencing credit for his detention in this case and (ii) the proportionality of Mr Bemba’s sentence. 

Aimé Kilolo Musamba was sentenced in total to 2 years and 6 months’ imprisonment. The time Mr Kilolo previously spent in detention was deducted, namely since his arrest on 23 November 2013, pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II on 20 November 2013, until 22 October 2014, the day Mr Kilolo was released provisionally. The Chamber ordered the suspension of the operation of the remaining term of imprisonment for a period of 3 years so that the sentence shall not take effect (i) if Mr Kilolo pays the fine, as imposed by the Chamber; and (ii) unless during that period Mr Kilolo commits another offence anywhere that is punishable with imprisonment, including offences against the administration of justice. In addition, the Chamber fined Mr Kilolo EUR 30,000 which must be paid to the Court within 3 months of its decision and thereafter transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims. 

Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo was sentenced in total to 2 years’ imprisonment. The time Mr Mangenda spent previously in detention was deducted, namely since his arrest on 23 November 2013, pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II on 20 November 2013, until 31 October 2014, the day Mr Mangenda was released provisionally. The Chamber ordered the suspension of the operation of the remaining term of imprisonment for a period of 3 years so that the sentence shall not take effect unless during that period Mr Mangenda commits another offence anywhere that is punishable with imprisonment, including offences against the administration of justice. 

Narcisse Arido was sentenced in total to 11 months’ imprisonment. The time Mr Arido spent previously in detention was deducted, namely since his arrest on 23 November 2013, pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II on 20 November 2013, until 22 October 2014, the day Mr Arido was released provisionally. Since the imposed sentence is equivalent to the credit to be applied for the period of time Mr Arido has been in custody, the Chamber considered the sentence of imprisonment as served. 

Fidèle Babala Wandu was sentenced in total to 6 months’ imprisonment. The time Mr Babala spent previously in detention was deducted, namely since his arrest on 24 November 2013, pursuant to a warrant of arrest issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II on 20 November 2013, until 23 October 2014, the day Mr Babala was released provisionally. Since the imposed sentence is less than the credit to be applied for the period of time Mr Babala has been in custody, the Chamber considered the sentence of imprisonment as served.

Relevant factors and determination of the sentence:

The Chamber identified all relevant factors for each convicted person, namely the gravity of the offences and his individual circumstances. It also considered mitigating and aggravating circumstances, as the case may be. In addition, the convicted persons’ individual circumstances, such as their good behaviour throughout the trial, co-operation with the Court, family circumstances, absence of prior convictions and other personal circumstances were taken into account. Upon identification of the relevant factors, the Chamber then weighed and balanced all factors in order to determine the appropriate sentence. Thus, in its decision, the Chamber considered (1) the gravity of the offences that were the basis for conviction of the person concerned; (2) the culpable conduct of the convicted person concerned; and (3) the individual circumstances of the convicted person concerned. 

The Chamber enjoys considerable discretion in determining an appropriate sentence. However, in so doing, it is guided by two considerations: (1) the sentence must reflect the culpability of the convicted person; and (2) the sentence must be proportionate to the offences. Both these considerations make clear that the sentence must be individualised for each convicted person. 


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