The Hague, April 11, 2011 (FH) - The Prosecutor General of the Central African Republic (CAR), Firmin Feindiro, told the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 7 and 11, 2011 that late president Ange-Félix Patassé had overall command of armed forces in the country in 2002-2003, thus reinforcing the Defence arguments. 

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Feindiro was testifying as a prosecution witness in the trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba, when he further told a Trial Chamber at the ICC that his investigation, which commenced in August 2003, heard more than 300 victims of the conflict.

His probe, he said, concluded that when members of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) were in Bangui, they were under the orders of Patassé through the direct command of the Presidential security leader, Ferdinand Bombayake.

Jean-Pierre Bemba, a Congolese senator and the leader of the MLC, is charged with crimes against humanity and crimes of war mainly for his command responsibility in crimes committed by his troops in Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003.  

Since the opening of his trial on November 22, 2010, Bemba has been claiming that he was not in command of his troops when they were in CAR to assist Ange-Felix Patassé against the rebellion led by François Bozizé. Firmin Feindiro partly confirmed this assertion during his cross-examination by the defence team.  

The witness concluded that "while the fact that he [Bemba] sent his troops at the request of Patassé - this fact is not being challenged [but] he has not been shown to be involved in their use on the field and it is, therefore, fitting to exclude him."   

During his cross-examination by defence counsel Aimé Kilolo, the CAR Prosecutor General confirmed that he wrote such statement and "no witness at the time had mentioned Bemba as directly involved in the conflict".   

Therefore, Bemba's defence concluded that the accused had no command responsibility in the crimes committed by the MLC.  


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