Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following the issuance of a second warrant of arrest against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, and the arrest of four other individuals
Pursuant to this warrant, on 23 and 24 November 2013, police forces in Belgium, France, The Netherlands and the Democratic Republic of the Congo arrested four individuals whom my Office alleges are responsible for offences against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Rome Statute. The warrant of arrest was also notified to a fifth person, Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who my Office alleges has ordered, solicited and induced these attempts to pervert the course of justice in relation to his on-going trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since his arrest in 2008, Mr. Bemba has been in detention at the ICC where he is facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He completed the presentation of his case before Trial Chamber III on 22 November 2013.
Persons arrested pursuant to the current warrant of arrest are Messrs. Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Narcisse Arido and Fidèle Babala Wandu. National procedures are on-going for their surrender to the Court.
The individuals arrested include, amongst others, members of the defence team of Mr. Bemba. It is particularly disturbing that a member of the legal profession is alleged to have intentionally and systematically participated in criminal activities aimed at undermining the administration of justice.
Article 70 of the Rome Statute stipulates that it is a criminal offence for anyone to, inter alia, attempt to corruptly influence witnesses, tamper with evidence, or present evidence known to be false or forged. If convicted, those found responsible for these crimes may face up to five years imprisonment, or a fine, or both.
I am extremely grateful for the excellent cooperation received from all States involved in facilitating the smooth execution of the arrests and related investigative operations.
Justice must be allowed to take its course. This warrant of arrest must serve as a warning to would-be perpetrators that my office will not hesitate to bring the full force of the law to bear against cynical – criminal – attempts to deny victims of massive crimes the justice they deserve.
Source: Office of the Prosecutor