DR Congo’s Bemba denies bribery charge at ICC

John-Pierre Bemba was extradited to The Hague from Belgium

John-Pierre Bemba was extradited to The Hague from Belgium

A former vice-president of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his ex-lawyers have denied charges of bribing witnesses to give false testimony at his war crimes trial.

John-Pierre Bemba was charged at the International Criminal Court (ICC), with two of his ex-lawyers and an MP.

Prosecutors said the case was vital to protect the ICC’s integrity.

The alleged bribes were paid while he was in the court’s prison at The Hague, following his arrest in 2008.

“Mr Bemba directed a plan to see his acquittal through corrupted means,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda told judges.

She added that witness testimony, phone and money transfer records, and logs from the court’s jail would prove her case.

In documents presented to the court, the prosecution alleged that his ex-trial lawyer Aime Kilolo discussed making payments with witnesses, Reuters news agency reports.

“This isn’t corruption,” Mr Kilolo is alleged to have told a witness. “Just a present from Mr Bemba because you agreed to testify in his favour.”

Prosecutors said that on another occasion Mr Kilolo told a colleague that “our white [colleague] mustn’t hear about this”, in apparent reference to Mr Bemba’s UK lawyer Peter Haynes, Reuters reports.

–BBC

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