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ICC announces arrests for falsifying evidence in Congo rebel leaders' war crimes trial

Four persons have been arrested [press release] on charges of falsifying evidence in connection with the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba [case materials; JURIST news archive], the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] announced Sunday. On November 20, Judge Cuno Jakob Tarfusser [official profile] issued an arrest warrant for Bemba's lead counsel Aime Kilolo Musamba; Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a member of Bemba's defense team and case manager; Fidele Babala Wandu, a member of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Liberation du Congo [advocacy website]; and Narcisse Arido, a witness for the defense. The men are alleged to have participated in a criminal network whose purpose was to generate false or forged documents for use as evidence and bribing witnesses to give false testimony in Bemba's trial.

Bemba is on trial for war crimes charges stemming from his activities as the military leader for the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). It is alleged that during 2002 and 2003, he committed two crimes against humanity and three war crimes in the territory of the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder]. Bemba has pleaded not guilty. Defense lawyers for Bemba commenced their arguments [JURIST report] in August 2012, arguing that the MLC was not under his control [RNW report] when the crimes were committed. The trial began [JURIST report] in November 2010, with prosecutors arguing that Bemba's failure to control the troops he ordered into the CAR renders him criminally responsible for the crimes that were committed there. Bemba was arrested [JURIST report] in Belgium in May 2008 after the ICC issued a sealed warrant for his arrest.

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