Sunday, January 11, 2009

Roadmap to ICC's Bemba charges hearing

(The 2d in IntLawGrrls' 3-part series previewing an ICC hearing set for this week in the sole case charged in the Central African Republic referral)

In her Decision on the Schedule for the Confirmation of Charges Hearing issued 13 days ago, International Criminal Court Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova (right) provided a roadmap to the four-day proceeding on the confirmation of charges in the case of Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gomba that is set to begin this Monday in Pre-Trial Chamber III. The hearing will provide the prosecution an opportunity to outline the evidence underlying the charges against Bemba, and further will give Bemba's defense team an opportunity to respond.
According to Pre-Trial Chamber I, the purpose of the confirmation of charges hearing is

limited to committing for trial only those persons against whom sufficiently compelling charges going beyond mere theory or suspicion have been brought.
On the first day of the hearing, the prosecution and the defense are expected each to make one-hour opening statements. The Victim’s Legal Representative also is scheduled to make an opening statement, of 30 minutes. For the remainder of the first day and the entirety of the following two days, we can anticipate exchanges between the prosecution and the defense on matters concerning:
► jurisdiction, admissibility and procedure;
► evidence on charges related to crimes against humanity, war crimes; and
► evidence related to Bemba’s alleged individual criminal responsibility.
Pursuant to Article 61 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the prosecution is supposed open each exchange by attempting to provide “sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe that [Bemba] committed the crime[s] charged.” Bemba’s legal team then is to respond to the Prosecutor’s evidence, by objecting to the charges, challenging the evidence, or presenting evidence.
The four-day hearing is due to conclude on Thursday, following scheduled one-hour closing statements by the prosecution and the defense as well as a 30-minute closing by the Victim’s Legal Representative.
(In total, the Prosecution will have 7 hours to present its case and the Defense will have 7 1/2. In rejecting the Defendant’s request for 12 hours, Judge Trendafilova found insufficient justification to “disrupt the equality between the parties.” Though the defense also argued that the prosecution should be required to present its entire case prior to the Defendant’s response, Judge Trendafilova ruled that Bemba’s “right speak last” (found in Rule 122(8) of the ICC’s Rules of Procedure and Evidence was preserved by giving him an opportunity to respond after the Prosecution’s presentation on each count.) Each day of the confirmation of charges hearing can be watched via live streaming from the ICC’s website here, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Hague time. PDF transcripts are to be posted thereafter.
Pre-Trial Chamber III is expected to issue a decision -- like that issued by Pre-Trial Chamber I in Lubanga -- on whether there is sufficient evidence to believe that Bemba committed each of the crimes with which he is charged. Following that determination, with regard to any or all of the charges, the Chamber can:
► confirm the charges and refer the matter to a trial chamber to be constituted by the Presidency;
► decline to confirm the charges; or
► adjourn the hearing and request that the Prosecutor provide additional evidence, conduct further investigation or amend the charge.

(Here is yesterday's 1st post in IntLawGrrls' Bemba series.)

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