The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague yesterday delivered its judgement, dealing a blow to Jean Pierre Bemba Gombo and two others who had appealed to a re-sentencing decision by the Trial Chamber that the defendants must serve one year imprisonment and but also that Bemba pays fine of 300,000 Euros for interfering with witnesses.
Bemba was sentenced alongside, Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo for war crimes committed in the Central African Republic. He was arrested in May 2008.
The Appeals Chamber of ICC confirmed rejected all three grounds of appeal of Bemba and confirmed the re-sentencing decision as taken by Trial Chamber VII of the Court.
The Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber VII of the Court did not fail to comply with its directions on re-sentencing, did not err in law or in fact, nor did it impose a disproportionate sentence.
The ICC Appeals Chamber also noted that Mr Bemba did not demonstrate any violation of his rights. Finally with regard to the Defence’s arguments on the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the ICC Appeals Chamber found that this decision had a different scope and therefore the Trial Chamber correctly found that it was not for this Court to intervene in the DRC domestic electoral proceedings.
On October 19, 2016, Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido were found guilty of offences against the administration of justice related to intentionally corruptly influencing witnesses and soliciting false testimony of defence witnesses in the other case against Mr Bemba at the ICC. The convictions and acquittals in relation to all five accused are final.
On March 22, 2017, Trial Chamber VII delivered the sentences in the case. On 8 March 2018, the ICC Appeals Chamber reversed the initial sentences against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo and remanded the matter to Trial Chamber VII for a new determination. On 17 September 2018, Trial Chamber VII issued its re-sentencing decision.
In its re-sentencing decision, Trial Chamber VII sentenced Mr Bemba to one year imprisonment and fined him EUR 300,000 that was to be paid in three months and not exceeding 50 percent of his identified assets as per ICC stipulations.
Kilolo and Mangenda were sentenced each to a total of 11 months of imprisonment. Kilolo was also fined EUR 30,000. The Chamber ordered the deduction from the convicted persons’ sentence of the time they had spent in detention, pursuant to an order of the Court and, accordingly, considered the sentences of imprisonment as served. The fines were ordered to be paid to the Court within 3 months of the Trial Chamber’s decision and thereafter transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims.
On October 18, 2018, Bemba’s Defence filed its Notice of Appeal against this decision and the appeal was filed on 17 December 2018. The Appeals Chamber held a hearing on 4 September 2019 to hear the arguments of the parties in the appeal.
Bemba at the time he was arrested was President and Commander in Chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo (MLC) and was alleged to be criminally responsible for four counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity committed on the territory of the Central African Republic from 25 October 2002 to 15 March 2003.