President of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and Commander-in-Chief of the MLC’s military branch Armée de Libération du Congo (ALC)
Allegations & Charges
The ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) alleges that Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was the President of the Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC) and Commander-in-Chief of the MLC’s military branch Armée de Libération du Congo (MLC/ALC); Mr. Bemba formed and led the MLC in a rebellion against the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The OTP alleges that, in the struggle for control of the Central African Republic (CAR) between President Ange‐Félix Patassé and former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces General François Bozizé, Mr. Bemba and President Patassé made an agreement that MLC forces would support CAR government forces in exchange for the CAR government not supporting the DRC government.
From 2002 to 2003, as alleged by the OTP, Mr. Bemba armed and ordered MLC forces to do the following: to enter the CAR from the DRC and to attack General Bozizé’s rebel forces and civilians in various areas of the CAR; to murder civilians; to commit rape and inflict sexual violence against men, women, and children as a method of terrorizing and subjugating the local populace; and to pillage and destroy property.
Please visit the Court’s website for more information on The Prosecutor v. Bemba.
The Accused is allegedly responsible for the atrocity crimes committed by his subordinates as their commander. Under Article 28(a) of the Rome Statute, commanders are responsible for the crimes committed by subordinates if the commander possessed effective control over the forces, knew or should have known that the forces committed or were about to commit the crimes, and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent the crimes from occurring or failed to punish the subordinates for committing the crimes listed below.
Under this mode of criminal liability, the Accused is charged with the following atrocity crimes:
Murder (Crime against Humanity): Article 7(1)(a)
Rape (Crime against Humanity): Article 7(1)(g)
Murder (War Crime): Article 8(2)(c)(i)
Rape (War Crime): Article 8(2)(e)(vi)
Pillaging (War Crime): Article 8(2)(e)(v)
Pre-Trial Chamber III issued a sealed arrest warrant against Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo on May 23, 2008, which was unsealed on May 24, 2008. Mr. Bemba was arrested by Belgian authorities on May 24, 2008; however, upon the OTP’s application and submission of new evidence, Pre-Trial Chamber III decided to issue a new arrest warrant (which alleged murder, rape, pillaging, and torture) on June 10, 2008, which replaced the May 23 arrest warrant (which alleged rape, pillaging, and torture). Mr. Bemba was transferred to ICC custody on July 3, 2008 and made his initial appearance before Pre-Trial Chamber III on July 4, 2008.
Pre-Trial Chamber II* confirmed the charges against Mr. Bemba on June 15, 2009. (*In March 2009, the ICC merged Pre-Trial Chamber III with Pre-Trial Chamber II and assigned the CAR situation to Pre-Trial Chamber II.)
On March 21, 2016, Trial Chamber III issued a verdict which found Mr. Bemba guilty of: murder (crime against humanity, war crime), rape (crime against humanity, war crime), and pillaging (war crime).
On June 21, 2016, Trial Chamber III ordered Mr. Bemba to serve concurrent sentences, with a deduction of time already spent in detention, of: 16 years of imprisonment for murder as a war crime; 16 years of imprisonment for murder as a crime against humanity; 18 years of imprisonment for rape as a war crime; 18 years of imprisonment for rape as a crime against humanity; and 16 years of imprisonment for pillaging as a war crime.
On June 8, 2018, the Appeals Chamber acquitted (by majority) Mr. Bemba of responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The majority found that Mr. Bemba had been improperly convicted of several criminal acts outside the “facts and circumstances described in the charges,” and that the Trial Chamber erred in its “assessment of whether Mr. Bemba failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures” to prevent or repress crimes by troops over which he had command responsibility.
Mr. Bemba’s conviction for offenses against the administration of justice in the Bemba et al. case remains. Mr. Bemba was released from ICC custody in June 2018.
- Start of Trial : November 22, 2010
- End of Trial : November 13, 2014
Verdict against Bemba
Sentence against Bemba
Acquittal on appeal of Bemba
Summary of appeal judgment