The Hague, September 6, 2012 (FH) – The second witness for the defence of former Congolese vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba on Thursday continued testifying before the International Criminal Court, with the prosecution challenging his qualifications as an expert. Gabonese academic Octave Dioba describes himself as an “expert in the geopolitics of armed conflict in central Africa”.

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Earlier in the week, Dioba told the court that Bemba's MLC militia had a legitimate right to intervene in the Central African Republic.

Bemba is on trial for crimes against humanity, including murder and rape, committed by his forces in the CAR between October 2002 and March 2003. MLC troops went there at the request of the Central African president of the day, Ange-Félix Patassé, to help fight a rebellion by François Bozizé (now the president). 

Dioba reminded the court that Patassé was a democratically elected president. He claimed the MLC had a right to intervene according to the Lusaka peace agreement in force in the DRC at the time, which put it in charge of the administration and security of northern DRC, including the security of the border with the CAR.

The trial continues on Monday September 10.