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Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

  • Leila Nadya Sadat (a1)
Extract

On June 8, 2018, in a surprising turn, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) reversed the conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo and acquitted him of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The four separate opinions, raising questions about Pre-Trial and Trial Chamber procedures, the standard of Appellate Chamber review, and the scope of command responsibility, have revealed sharp disagreements between ICC judges and created considerable confusion over the state of ICC law and procedure.

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1 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08, Judgment Pursuant to Article 74 of the Statute (Mar. 21, 2016).

2 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08, Decision on Sentence Pursuant to Article 76 of the Statute (June 21, 2016).

3 Yvonne McDermott, Prosecutor v. Bemba, 110 AJIL 526, 532 (2016). See also Clark, Janine Natalya, The First Rape Conviction at the ICC: An Analysis of the Bemba Judgment, 14 J. Int'l Crim. Just. 667, 672 (2016).

4 Falkowska, Martyna M., The Bemba Trial Before the International Criminal Court: Defining an Armed Conflict Through the Scope of a Commander's Responsibility, 54 Mil. L. & L. War Rev. 267, 295 (2015).

5 Alsharidi, Bader Mohammed, The Consistency of Implementing Command Responsibility in International Criminal Law, 12 Eyes on the ICC 73 (2016–2017); Clark, supra note 3; but see Kevin Jon Heller, Why Bemba's Convention Was Not a “Very Good Day” for the OTP (Updated), Opinio Juris (Mar. 22, 2016), at http://opiniojuris.org/2016/03/22/a-few-thoughts-on-bembas-conviction.

6 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08-424, Decision Pursuant to Article 61(7)(a) and (b) of the Rome Statute (June 15, 2009).

7 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08 A, Judgment (June 8, 2018).

8 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08 A, Separate Opinion of Judges Christine Van Den Wyngaert and Howard Morrison (June 8, 2018).

9 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08 A, Concurring Separate Opinion of Judge Eboe-Osuji (June 14, 2018).

10 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08 A, Dissenting Opinion of Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Judge Piotr Hofmanski (June 8, 2018).

11 Maxence Peniguet, CPI: Jean-Pierre Bemba, chronique d'un acquittement surprise, Dalloz, Actualité (June 22, 2018).

12 See, e.g., Amnesty International, The Bemba Appeals Judgment Warrants Better Investigations and Fair Trials – Not Efforts to Discredit the Decision (June 19, 2018), at https://hrij.amnesty.nl/bemba-verdict-warrants-better-investigations-and-fair-trials; Janet H. Anderson, Ocampo's Shadow Still Hangs Over the ICC, Int'l Just. Trib. (June 18, 2018).

13 See, e.g., Joseph Powderly & Niamh Hayes, The Bemba Appeal: A Fragmented Appeals Chamber Destabilises the Law and Practice of the ICC, PhD Stud. Hum. Rts. (June 26, 2018).

14 For a first take on the judgment, see Leila N. Sadat, Fiddling While Rome Burns?: The Appeals Chamber's Curious Decision in Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, EJIL: Talk! (June 12, 2018), at https://www.ejiltalk.org/fiddling-while-rome-burns-the-appeals-chambers-curious-decision-in-prosecutor-v-jean-pierre-bemba-gombo.

15 Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Case No. ICC-01/04-01/06-3121-Conf (A 5), Judgment on Appeal, paras. 18–27 (Dec. 1, 2014).

16 Article 83(1) provides: “For the purposes of proceedings under article 81 and this article, the Appeals Chamber shall have all the powers of the Trial Chamber.” See Alexander Heinze, Some Reflections on the Bemba Appeals Chamber Judgment, Opinio Juris (June 18, 2018), at http://opiniojuris.org/2018/06/18/some-reflections-on-the-bemba-appeals-chamber-judgment.

17 Sadat, Leila Nadya & Jolly, Jarrod M., Seven Canons of ICC Treaty Interpretation: Making Sense of Article 25's Rorschach Blot, 27 Leiden J. Int'l. L. 755 (2014).

18 See, e.g., Prosecutor v. Drazen Erdemović, Case No. IT-96-22-A, Separate and Dissenting Opinion of Judge Cassese, para. 49 (Oct. 7, 1997).

19 R. v. A.G., 2000 SCC 17, 1 SCR 439, para. 28 (Sup. Ct. Canada 2000) (finding that trial judge findings in a criminal case may not be set aside due to an appellate judge's “lurking doubt” or “vague unease”).

20 Prosecutor v. Zlatko Aleksovski, Case No. IT-95-14/1-A, Judgment, para. 63 (Mar. 24, 2000).

21 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/13, Judgment Pursuant to Article 74 of the Statute (Oct. 19, 2016), aff'd March 8, 2018; see also Jonas Nilsson, Prosecutor v. Bemba et al., 112 AJIL 473 (2018).

22 See, e.g., Alex Whiting, Appeals Judges Turn the ICC on its Head with Bemba Decision, Just Security (June 14, 2018); Jennifer Trahan, Bemba Acquittal Rests on Erroneous Application of Appellate Review Standard, Opinio Juris (June 25, 2018).

23 Prosecutor v. Aleksovski, Case No. IT-95-14/1-A, at para. 97 (quoting Judge Shahabuddeen).

24 Situation in the Republic of Kenya, Case No. ICC-01/09, Decision Pursuant to Article 15 of the Rome Statute on the Authorization of an Investigation into the Situation in the Republic of Kenya, Dissenting Opinion of Judge Hans-Peter Kaul (Mar. 31, 2010).

25 Leila Nadya Sadat, The International Criminal Court and the Transformation of International Law 146–48 (2002).

26 Article 7(2)(a) of the Rome Statute provides: “‘Attack against any civilian population’ means a course of conduct involving the multiple commission of acts referred to in paragraph 1 against any civilian population, pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to commit such attack.”

27 See, e.g., Jeffrey L. Dunoff & Mark A. Pollack, More Than Trivial: Dissent as Design Element, EJIL: Talk! (Sept. 27, 2012), at https://www.ejiltalk.org/more-than-trivial-dissent-as-design-element.

28 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08-424, Decision Pursuant to Article 61(7)(a) and (b) of the Rome Statute (June 15, 2009).

29 ICC, Chamber's Practice Manual, at 11 (May 2017), available at https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/other/170512-icc-chambers-practice-manual_May_2017_ENG.pdf.

30 Prosecutor v. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/13, Decision Re-sentencing Mr Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Mr Aimé Kilolo Musamba and Mr Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo (Sept. 17, 2018).

31 Nilsson, supra note 21, at 478.

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