Lawyers for Congo rebel leader Bemba argue legality of charges

Lawyers for Congo rebel leader Bemba argue legality of charges

[JURIST] Defense lawyers for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba [case materials, JURIST news archive] argued before the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] Tuesday that charges against their client should be dropped. His lawyers argued that he has been denied due process [Reuters report] and that the charges are illegal. Bemba was originally set to go on trial on war crimes charges on Tuesday, but the trial was postponed [JURIST report] until July 5 to allow the court more time to consider the defense's motion on the admissibility of the case, filed in February.

In December, the ICC ordered [text, PDF] Bemba to remain in custody [JURIST report] until his trial. The ruling reversed a decision [JURIST report] issued in August ordering Bemba's conditional release. The order for release was opposed by ICC prosecutors who appealed [JURIST report] the original decision. The ICC has ordered Bemba to stand trial [JURIST report] for war crimes allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR) [BBC backgrounder] from October 2002 to May 2003. Bemba was arrested [JURIST report] in Belgium in May 2008 after the ICC issued a warrant for his arrest for his actions in the CAR. He was indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity and transferred [JURIST report] to the ICC in July 2008.