Press Release: 9 January 2009

The confirmation of charges hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is starting Monday 12 January 2009


Situation: Central African Republic
Case: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

The confirmation of charges hearing in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo will start Monday 12 January 2009 at 9.30 and it will last until Thursday 15 January. Jean-Pierre Bemba is the first suspect before the Court for crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR), where the Prosecution is continuing its investigation.

The confirmation hearing, an innovation for criminal international procedures, does not prejudge the culpability of the suspect. It aims to protect his rights by ensuring that no case goes to trial unless there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that the person committed the crime with which he has been charged.

It is a public hearing which will be held in the presence of the prosecution represented by Deputy Prosecutor  Fatou Bensouda and Senior Trial Lawyer Petra Kneuer; the suspect: Jean-Pierre Bemba as well as his defence team constituted by Nkwebe Liriss, Karim Khan, Aimé Kilolo-Musamba and Pierre Legros. Fifty-four victims have been granted by the judges to participate in these proceedings. They will not be present in the Courtroom but will be represented by their legal representatives: Marie Edith Douzima-Lawson (representing thirty-four victims) and Paolina Massidda, Principal Counsel of the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV), representing twenty victims. The OPCV is an independent office, which falls within the remit of the Registry for administrative purposes only and has a mission to provide support and assistance to victims participating in the proceedings and their legal representatives.

At the opening of the hearing on 12 January, the charges will be read out and the opening statements will be given by the prosecution and the legal representatives of victims followed by the defence. Over the following two days, the prosecution and the defence will make presentations of matters related to jurisdiction, admissibility and other procedural issues. Both parties will also present evidence on the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes charges as well as on individual responsibility. Finally, on 15 January, the prosecution, defence and legal representatives of the victims will present their closing statements before the judges.

Following this hearing, Pre-Trial Chamber III will decide, within sixty days, whether or not to confirm the charges brought by the Prosecutor against Jean-Pierre Bemba and whether or not to commit him to trial.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, national of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), aged about 45 years old, was arrested on 24 May 2008 by the Belgian authorities following the Court's warrant of arrest. He was surrendered and transferred to the International Criminal Court on 3 July, 2008.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, President and Commander in Chief of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), is alleged to be criminally responsible for five counts of war crimes (rape, torture, outrages against personal dignity, pillaging and murder) and three counts of crimes against humanity (rape, torture, and murder) committed on the territory of the Central African Republic from 25 October 2002 to 15 March 2003.

The courtroom proceedings can be followed on the ICC website at:

Courtroom I:


Please note there will be a 30-minute delay in transmission.

For a detailed schedule for the hearings:

29.12.2008 - Decision on the Schedule for the Confirmation of Charges Hearing

For further information please contact Ms Sonia Robla, Head of Public Information and Documentation Section at +31 (0)70 515-8089 or +31 (0) 646448726 or at [email protected]