Press Release: 24 May 2008

ICC Arrest Jean-Pierre Bemba – massive sexual crimes in Central African Republic will not go unpunished


Press Release

ICC Arrest Jean-Pierre Bemba – massive sexual crimes in Central African Republic will not go unpunished


Situation : Centrafricain Republic
Affaire : The Prosecutor v/. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

Jean-Pierre Bemba, charged by the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Central African Republic, was today arrested in the suburbs of Brussels, Belgium.

Mr. Bemba is chairman of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), an armed group which intervened in the 2002-2003 armed conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) and pursued a plan of terrorizing and brutalizing innocent civilians, in particular during a campaign of massive rapes and looting. Mr Bemba had already used the same tactics in the past, in CAR, in the DRC, always leaving a trail of death and destruction behind him. 

He is the first person arrested in the context of the ICC investigation in CAR which was opened by Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in May 2007. Further investigation are proceeding. 

This arrest was a complex and well-prepared operation’’ said Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo. “We are grateful to all countries involved, including Belgium which immediately executed the Arrest Warrant in accordance with their obligations under the Rome Statute. I am thankful to all those who assisted in tracing Mr. Bemba, to avoid any possibility of his escaping international justice

The number of rapes carried out with shocking brutality is a particular feature of this case.  “He had done it before in CAR, he had done it before in the DRC. He had to be stopped.” said Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo. 

The Office of Prosecutor presented evidence against Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba to the judges of the International Criminal Court on 16 May 2008, charging him with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Pre-Trial Chamber issued a warrant of arrest on 23 May 2008. This arrest warrant remained under seal until his arrest on 24 May 2008.

Mr. Bemba’s arrest is a warning to all those who commit, who encourage, or who tolerate sexual crimes.  There is a new law called the Rome Statute. Under this new law, they will be prosecuted” said the Prosecutor. 

There are no excuses for hundreds of rapes. There are no excuse for the rape of a little girl, with her parents watching. There are no excuses for commanders ordering, authorizing or acquiescing to the commission of rapes and looting by their forces. We have evidence that Mr Bemba committed crimes.. With the Rome Statute, nobody is beyond the reach of international criminal justice. Nobody can side with the criminals and against the victims.  Bosco Ntaganda, who committed crimes in Ituri and continues to commit crimes today in the Kivus, Joseph Kony of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, Ahmed Harun, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for the Sudan, will also end up in jail."

I went to CAR, I met the victims, those who survived the violence, those who survived AIDS.  We cannot erase the scars. But we can give them justice. Their testimonies will be strong evidence for the Prosecution. The victims will tell their stories in Court, this power will be theirs.”

Jean-Pierre Bemba is the fourth person to be arrested by the ICC.  On June 5,   I will report to the UNSC regarding crimes and destruction of entire communities in Darfur. Our first trial focusing on child soldiers is about to start.  We continue to monitor situations around the world where crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC appear to be committed, from Colombia to Afghanistan. International Justice is in motion.”  

For more information, please contact:

OTP Media Liaison Nicola Fletcher (French)   
[email protected]  
+31 (0) 70 515 8071 (office)                               
+31 (0) 650 890 473 (mobile)

OTP Public Information Coordinator Florence Olara
[email protected]   
+31 (0) 70 515 8723 (office)                               
+31 (0) 6 5029 4476 (mobile 

Source: Office of the Prosecutor

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]