ICC Releases Suspects to Avoid Unreasonably Lengthy Pre-Trial Detention

by Léa Kulinowski

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

On 21 October 2014, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court ordered the immediate release of four out of the five suspects in the case of Prosecutor v. Bemba, Kilolo, Mangenda, Babala and Arido. Mr. Bemba, who has been held in detention since July 2008 as a result of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity, remains detained.

The suspects are charged with offences against the administration of justice under Article 70 of the Statute – the first of its kind before the ICC – including giving false testimony, knowingly presenting false/forged evidence and corruptly influencing witnesses. The penalty for these offences goes from a fine to a maximum of five years of imprisonment.

When granting the interim release, the Single Judge emphasised the protection against unreasonable detention as per Article 60 (4) of the Statute and noted the advanced stage of the proceedings as well as the various delays, holding that “the reasonableness of the duration of the detention has to be balanced inter alia against the statutory penalties applicable to the offences at stake in these proceedings and that, accordingly, the further extension of the period of the pre-trial detention would result in making its duration disproportionate”. Even though the duration of the suspects’ detention was not due to the Prosecutor’s inexcusable delay, the Single Judge found that the Pre-Trial Chamber was under an independent obligation to ensure that that a person is not unreasonably detained prior to trial under Article 60 (4) of the Statute. Continue reading

No Release for Detained Counsel

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba

Aimé Kilolo, Jean-Jacques Mangenda and Jean-Pierre Bemba on trial at the IC

On 14 March 2014 and 17 March 2014, respectively, the requests for interim release of Me Aimé Kilolo Musamba, former lead counsel for Mr Bemba, and Mr Jean Jacques Mangenda, former case manager for Mr Bemba, were denied.

Under article 60(2) of the Statute, upon an application for interim release, the Chamber has to determine whether “the conditions set forth in article 58 paragraph 1 are met”. In the negative, the person shall be released “with or without conditions”.

It is worth noting that in the contempt case in relation to which Messrs Kilolo and Mangenda were detained, the Prosecution did not decide to make use of the alternative enshrined in the Statute at Article 58 (7), namely to request the Pre Trial Chamber to issue a summons for the person to appear. The accused did not therefore have the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to appear voluntarily before the Court.

In its decisions, a Single Judge denied the requests for interim release on the basis that, in his view, there are reasonable grounds to believe that the accused have committed the crimes they are accused of, and, among other reasons, that there are concrete flight risks. Continue reading