The Hague, January 21, 2011 (FH) - The fifth witness called to the stand by the Prosecution in Jean-Pierre Bemba's trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) testified during four days while a psychologist from the "Victims and Witnesses Unit" stood by her side.

1 min 7Approximate reading time

Jean-Pierre Bemba is charged with crimes against humanity and crimes of war committed in Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.

The witness was one of the 1312 victims represented by the Defence in this case.

Witness 68 told the Court how she fled from her house at the end of October 2002 when soldiers attacked her neighborhood. "On our way, we met soldiers (...) One of them grabbed my sister-in-law and the other one took the bundle I was carrying on my head. They dragged me inside the compound. They started to assault me, to undress me", she explained to the Prosecution substitute, Petra Knauer.

" The first Banyamulenge ripped off my loincloth and my panties. Them, they had only taken off their pants. They had put their weapons down on the floor (...) The third guy put his feet on my hands and threatened me with his gun. What they did to me hurt me badly so I was crying. Then I fainted (...)"

"Today, she said to the Court, sobbing, each time I see a soldier with a weapon the feeling I had at the time comes back".

During his cross-examination of the witness, Defence lawyer Peter Haynes tried to challenge the authenticity of the medical certificate submitted to the Court. He also suggested that the victims had met before to share their testimonies. "We never had meetings to recount what had happened to us", Witness 68 replied. " There was no forum to tell our experiences".


© Hirondelle News Agency