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November 24, 2013

Four Arrested for Witness Tampering in ICC Case

by VOA News

Four men have been arrested for alleged witness tampering in the war crimes trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba.

The International Criminal Court announced the arrests Sunday, saying the suspects bribed witnesses to give false testimony and presented evidence to the court that they knew to be false or forged.

The four include two members of Bemba's legal team, lead counsel Aime Kilolo Musamba, arrested in Belgium; and case manager Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabonga, arrested in the Netherlands.

The other two are defense witness Narcisse Arido, arrested in France; and Fidele Babala Wandu, a leader of Bemba's party, who was arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Bemba faces charges of murder, rape and pillaging for actions his rebel group allegedly committed in the Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003.

He was arrested in Belgium in 2008, after fleeing the DRC because of clashes between his forces and those of President Joseph Kabila. His trial began in November 2010.

The ICC on Sunday thanked authorities in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Congo for helping to arrest the witness tampering suspects. It said these are the first arrests made in relation to such charges before the ICC.

It said Wandu is being transferred to ICC headquarters in The Hague and the other three will turned over at a later date.