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Judgment Day Set in Jean-Pierre Bemba Trial

During the hearing, the ICC trial chamber heard Bembas forces committed widespread rapes with complete impunity during the conflict, raped victims in front of their family members and sometimes forced one family member to rape another.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has set March 21, 2016 for its verdict in a case in which the former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba is accused of murder, rape and pillaging.

Bemba was charged with five counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed by his army; Movement for the Liberation of Congo in Central African Republic.

The alleged acts took place between October 2002 and March 2003 when Bemba's rebels helped to put down a coup against Ange-Felix Patasse, the former president of the Central African Republic.

During the hearing, the ICC trial chamber heard Bemba's forces committed widespread rapes with complete impunity during the conflict, raped victims in front of their family members and sometimes forced one family member to rape another.

“Sons were sometimes forced to rape their mothers in front of their fathers. MLC troops raped wives in front of their husbands. They raped children in front of their parents,” the trail chamber was told in one of its hearings.  Bemba pleaded not guilty to the charges.

A statement issued by the ICC indicates that the verdict will be read out in public and will either acquit or convict the accused.  The accused before the ICC is presumed innocent.

“While the Prosecution must prove the guilt of the accused, the Trial Chamber will convict the accused only if it is satisfied that the charges have been proven beyond reasonable doubt,” the statement reads. 

The Chamber is composed of Brazilian Judge Sylvia Steiner, Joyce Aluoch from Kenya and Kuniko Ozaki from Japan.

The trial in the Bemba case started on 22 November 2010 and the submission of evidence in the case was closed on 7 April 2014.

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