Arusha, May 24, 2013 (FH) – Congolese Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba this week renounced 13 of the witnesses he was planning to bring in his trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Meanwhile the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) rejected an assistance request from judicial authorities in Germany.

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Bemba gives up 13 witnesses: Lawyers for the Congolese politician announced they are renouncing 13 witnesses they had been planning to bring. In a submission posted on the ICC website, the two defense lawyers blame lack of cooperation by the three countries where the witnesses are living. They do not give details about the identities of the witnesses or the countries concerned, except that two of these countries are not ICC States Parties. Since August 2012 when he started presenting his defence, Bemba has brought 19 witnesses out of 60 that he originally announced. 

Ouattara urged to transfer Simone Gbagbo to The Hague: Human Rights Watch called Tuesday on the Ivorian government to cooperate fully with the ICC by handing over Simone Gbagbo, wife of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo. The former head of state has been in ICC custody since November 30, 2011, while his wife is still detained in Côte d’Ivoire. They are both suspected of crimes against humanity committed in their country during the crisis that followed the November 2010 presidential elections.


German request rejected: The Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) has rejected a request from a German court to disclose the identity of four protected witnesses who testified in the trial of a former top official convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). In its decision, the MICT recognized its obligation to assist German judicial authorities but also its duty to protect these witnesses who refuse to testify in Germany.


Ban Ki-moon’s mea culpa: On a visit to Rwanda, the UN Secretary General acknowledged that the international community had “failed” in Rwanda in 1994. This came as he was visiting a genocide memorial in the Rwandan capital Kigali. Ban said that the scale of the massacres of Tutsis in 1994 “almost defies comprehension”.