Today 3 September 2009, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court decided to grant suspensive effect to the Prosecutor’s Appeal against the Pre-Trial Chamber II decision, dated 14 August 2009, which granted Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo “conditional release”. Hence, implementation of the decision on interim release is suspended pending the final decision on the merits of the Prosecution’s Appeal.
Pre-Trial Chamber II had decided, on 14 August, to grant the request of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo for interim release, albeit under conditions. Pre-Trial Chamber II held that the continued detention of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo did not appear necessary:
(i) to ensure the appearance of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo at trial,
(ii) to ensure that he does not obstruct or endanger the investigation or the court proceedings and,
(iii) to prevent Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo from continuing with the commission of the same or related crimes which are with in the jurisdiction of the Court and which arise out of the same circumstances in the present case.
However, Pre-Trial Chamber II had deferred the implementation of its decision pending a determination in which State Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo will be released and which set of conditions shall be imposed.
Jean-Pierre Bemba was arrested on 24 May 2008, by the Belgian authorities, pursuant to a warrant of arrest delivered by the Pre-Trial Chamber, and was surrendered to the ICC on 3 July 2008. He is accused of being criminally responsible, for having effectively acted as a military commander, for war crimes (murder, rape and pillaging) and crimes against humanity (murder and rape). These crimes were allegedly committed during an armed conflict which took place in the Central African Republic from 26 October 2002 to 15 March 2003. In the context of this conflict, the MLC forces, led by Mr Bemba, allegedly directed a widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population in particular, in Bangui, Boy-Rabé, Point Kilomètre 12 (PK 12), Point Kilomètre 22 (PK 22) and Mongoumba, that targeted a significant number of civilian victims.