On the 8th of March 2018, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its judgments on the appeals against verdict and sentence in the case The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Fidèle Babala Wandu and Narcisse Arido. Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Presiding Judge, read a summary of the judgments in open court highlighting the key findings of the Appeals Chamber.
The Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals submitted by the five accused against their conviction. It confirmed the convictions in respect of most of the charges. However, it acquitted Mr Bemba, Mr Kilolo and Mr Mangenda of the charge of presenting evidence that a party knows is false or forged (Article 70(1)(b) of the Rome Statute), finding that this provision only applies to the presentation of documentary evidence, not to the calling of witnesses, as in the case at hand. The convictions and acquittals in relation to the five accused are now final.
In relation to the sentences that Trial Chamber VII had imposed, Mr Bemba, Mr Babala and Mr Arido, as well as the Prosecutor, filed appeals. The Appeals Chamber rejected the appeals of Mr Bemba, Mr Babala and Mr Arido. The sentences imposed on Mr Babala and Mr Arido are now final.
The Prosecutor had appealed against the sentences imposed on Mr Bemba, Mr Kilolo and Mr Mangenda. The Appeals Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s appeal, finding that the Trial Chamber committed several errors with respect to the assessment of the gravity of the offences. In addition, the Appeals Chamber found that the Trial Chamber did not have the power to impose suspended sentences, as it had done in relation Mr Mangenda and Mr Kilolo. The Appeals Chamber reversed the sentences of Mr Bemba, Mr Mangenda and Mr Kilolo and remanded the matter to the Trial Chamber for a new determination.
Background: On 19 October 2016, Trial Chamber VII found the five accused guilty of various offences against the administration of justice. These offences related to intentionally corruptly influencing witnesses and soliciting false testimonies of defence witnesses in another case before the ICC: The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. On 22 March 2017, Trial Chamber VII delivered its Decision on Sentence pursuant to Article 76 of the Statute.
Following these decisions, Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Aimé Kilolo Musamba, Mr Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, Mr Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Mr Narcisse Arido appealed the Judgment. The Prosecutor as well as Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Fidèle Babala Wandu, and Mr Narcisse Arido appealed the Sentence.
The Appeals Chamber in these appeals is composed of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Presiding Judge, Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, Judge Howard Morrison, Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson and Judge Piotr Hofmański.