The ICC has been investigating in the situation of the Central African Republic (CAR) since May 2007. On December 21, 2004 the government of the CAR referred the situation within its territory to the ICC for crimes committed since July 1, 2002. The Central African Republic ratified the Rome Statute on October 3, 2001 and is thus has been a State Party Since July 1, 2002. After a detailed analysis of the information received from the Government of the CAR and from other sources, the Prosecutor determined that the conditions required for launching an investigation were satisfied.
On May 9, 2008 the Prosecutor submitted an application for a warrant of arrest for Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, the former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the alleged leader of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC). After Pre-Trial Chamber III approved the warrant on May 23, 2008, Belgian authorities arrested Bemba on May 24, 2008. Belgian authorities arrested Bemba because of its obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute, and this is the first time that a country that is neither the home state nor the referring state made an arrest. Bemba was transferred to the ICC on July 3, 2008.
The conflict in CAR took place from around October 2002 to March 14, 2003. In 2002, former President Ange-Félix Patassé invited the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC), led by Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, to fight a coup attempt by former Army Chief of Staff General François Bozizé. Bozizé had successfully seized power in March 2003 when Patassé was out of the country. Patassé also enlisted Chadian Colonel Abdoulaye Miskine leader of the Unité de la Securité Présidentielle (USP) as well as Libyan troops. It was in the context of this conflict that MLC forces under Bemba allegedly committed crimes against the civilian population.
Status In detention and on trial at the ICC
Charges Allegedly criminally responsible as military commander for two counts of crimes against humanity of murder and rape, and three counts of war crimes of murder, rape and pillaging
Arrest warrant issued May 23, 2008 (replaced with new warrant on June 10, 2008)
Position Alleged President and Commander-in-Chief of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (Movement for the Liberation of Congo, or MLC)
The Bemba case is ICC's first case involving the conflict in CAR, and the third trial ever held at the ICC. It has a particular focus on gender crimes and crimes of sexual violence. The trial proceedings are being held before Trial Chamber III following the confirmation of charges by Pre-Trial Chamber II on June 15, 2009. The trial started on November 22, 2010 and is ongoing.
May 27, 2008 Pre-Trial Chamber III requests Portugal to freeze and seize Bemba's assets.
June 4, 2008 Bemba makes initial appearance before Pre-Trial Chamber III.
June 10, 2008 ICC judges issue a new arrest warrant, adding new counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes to the existing charges.
August 25, 2008 Registrar decides that Jean-Pierre Bemba is not indigent and that, accordingly, he is ineligible for legal assistance, in full or in part, paid by the Court.
December 12, 2008 Pre-Trial Chamber III grants 54 persons the status of victims to participate in the confirmation of charges proceedings.
January 12-15, 2009 Pre-Trial Chamber conducts the confirmation of charges hearing.
March 3, 2009 Pre-Trial Chamber decides to adjourn the confirmation hearing and requests the Prosecutor to consider submitting an amended document containing the charges, taking into account that the legal characterization of the facts to a mode of liability other than the individual responsibility relied on by the Prosecutor.
June 15, 2009 After an in-depth review of the amended document and observations of the Defense and legal representative of the victims, Pre-Trial Chamber II decides that there is sufficient evidence to confirm the charges.
August 14, 2009 Pre-Trial Chamber II issues a decision granting interim release to Bemba; the Prosecutor appeals this decision.
September 18, 2009 Following the confirmation of charges, the Presidency refers the case to Trial Chamber III.
December 2, 2009 Appeals Chamber reverses the decision of Pre-Trial Chamber II to grant interim release. Bemba remains in custody of the Court.
June 30, 2010 Trial Chamber III grants participatory status to 81 other victims.
November 22, 2010 The trial commences.
August 14, 2012 The defense begins the presentation of its case.
December 13, 2012 Trial Chamber III temporarily suspends the trial until March 4, 2012 in order to give the defense the necessary time to prepare its case in light of the Chamber's decision to possibly change the legal characterization of the facts, specifically how the accused participated in the alleged crimes.
February 25, 2013 Trial resumes. The defense continues the presentation of its case.
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