Today, 7 July, 2010, Trial Chamber III of the International Criminal Court (ICC) vacated the commencement date, scheduled on 14 July, of the trial in the case of The Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo. Trial Chamber III considered that it is in the interests of justice for the challenge to admissibility of the case raised by the Defence to be resolved by the Appeals Chamber prior to the commencement of the trial.
On 24 June, 2010, Trial Chamber III had dismissed the admissibility and abuse of process challenges, raised by the Defence. The latter filed an appeal against this decision on 28 June, followed by a request for suspensive effect of the appeal on 5 July, 2010. In its order issued today, Trial Chamber III explained that it would be inappropriate to commence the trial when there is an outstanding issue for determination by the Appeals Chamber as to whether the proceedings should be suspended and pending the outcome of the substantive appeal.
Trial Chamber III convened a status conference on 30 August, 2010, when, inter alia, it will hear submissions on re-fixing the trial date.
The Chamber also requested the parties and participants to submit observations on the detention of the accused, in the context of the periodic review of the matter that has to take place at least every 120 days as provided for by rule 118 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is alleged to be criminally responsible for having effectively acted as a military commander within the meaning of article 28(a) of the Rome Statute for two crimes against humanity (murder and rape) and three war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) allegedly committed on the territory of the Central African Republic during the period approximately between 26 October, 2002 and 15 March, 2003.
After his arrest by the Belgian authorities in accordance with a warrant of arrest issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC, he was transferred to the Court on 3 July, 2008. He is currently being detained at the ICC Detention Centre in The Hague.