The Hague, August 23, 2011 (FH) - Jean-Pierre Bemba's trial resumed on Tuesday before the International Criminal Court (ICC) with the hearing of the 26th Prosecution's witness.

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Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), a political party in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is charged with crimes against humanity and crimes of war mainly for his command responsibility in murders and rapes committed by his troops in the neighbouring Central African Republic between October 2002 and March 2003.

His voice and figure distorted on the Court's screens, the protected witness presented himself for half an hour before the actual examination started.

The witness said he had close links with MLC leaders. He explained that towards the end of 2002, two battalions crossed the Oubangui river and entered Central African territory.

"They came to rescue President Patassé, whose regime was threatened", the witness told the three judges. "MLC used to obtain supplies from CAR, so they didn't want Patassé to lose power. CAR was their support base".

He added that "fuel and ammunition" were coming from CAR.

"How would you know?", the Prosecutor's substitute Badibanga asked. - "I had friends within the MLC, they used to inform me", the witness replied.

He also explained that MLC's representative in Bangui, Atandele Soge - now a member of the Congolese parliament - was responsible for logistics. "He took care of the fuel, and of the Antonovs landing in Bangui to take stuff from there". - "What kind of stuff?" , the Prosecutor asked. « I was not at the airport so I don't know. There was fuel, military rations, special rations for MLC leaders".

The subsequent hearing was held behind closed doors.

Bemba has been detained in Scheveningen's prison since July 3, 2008. After losing Congo's Presidential election in 2006, he went into exile in Portugal, before being arrested in Belgium


© Hirondelle News Agency