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ICC to issue verdict on Bemba witness interference


The International Criminal Court (ICC) will hand down its first ever sentences for witness tampering in the trial of Congo’s convicted ex-warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba on Wednesday.

Bemba and four others were charged with attempting to interfere with witnesses during his trial last year that saw him jailed for 18 years after the court found him guilty of war crimes.

The four include his legal counsel Aime Kilolo and a member of his defense team, Jean Jacques Mangeda, as well as a Congolese member of parliament, Fidele Babala and Narcisse Arido who served as an expert defense witness in the main trial.

All five were found guilty last October. They face up to five years in prison, a fine, or both.

This is the first ICC trial directly related to witness tampering at the court.

Rights activists say it highlights problems of witness interference at the court, which is reported to have affected other ICC cases.

In the court’s fist trial of Thomas Lubanga, the chamber found the prosecution testimony of nine child soldiers unreliable because of witness coaching.

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