Three months ago, on November 20, 2013, the ICC issued a warrant of arrest for four individuals: Aimé Kilolo Musamba (Bemba Gombo’s lead counsel), Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo (a member of Bemba Gomb’s Defense team and case manager), Fidèle Babala Wandu (a member of the DRC Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo), and Narcisse Arido (a Defense witness).
The arrest warrant alleged that these individuals committed offenses against the administration of justice with regards to Bemba Gombo’s trial. The warrant specified these offenses as “consisting of corruptly influencing witnesses before the ICC and presenting evidence that they knew to be false or forged.”
The fourth individual mentioned, Narcisse Arido, was arrested on November 23rd, 2013 by the French authorities in response to the ICC’s requests for arrest and surrender. He was transferred to the ICC detention yesterday, March 18th, 2014. The Court just announced that Arido’s initial appearance has been scheduled for tomorrow Thursday, March 20th.
Pursuant to Article 58 of the Rome Statute, in order to issue an arrest warrant, the Pre-Trial Chamber must find determine two things: First, that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court”; and second, that “the arrest of the person appears necessary.”
Judge Cuno Tarfusser of Pre-Trial Chamber II found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that these individuals are criminally responsible for the commission of offences against the administration of justice, which violates Article 70 of the Statute. Article 70 specifies the ICC’s jurisdiction over intentional offenses that go against its administration of justice, specifying five specific offenses. Judge Cuno Tarfusser determined that these individuals corruptly influenced the witnesses that went before the Court and presented evidence that they knew was false or forged.
The Pre-Trial Chamber also found that their acts “were part of a network for the purposes of presenting false or forged documents and bribing certain persons to give false testimony in the case against Mr Bemba.”
According to Article 70, in the event of conviction, “the Court may impose a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or a fine…or both.” Is this sentence too harsh? Should the sentencing be softened? The ICC’s issuance of an arrest warrant for an individual is seen as a big deal. The ICC was established to prosecute “the most serious crimes of concern to the international community.” Do you think that the potential sentence being faced by Arido reflects the seriousness of the offense? Or should it be harsher?