#CAR : Witness – #Bemba Wasn’t Responsible for #MLC Discipline

Jean-Pierre Bemba aka Chairman aka Igwe aka Petit-Mobutu Stade Tata Raphaël Kinshasa, Thursday, July 26, 2006 Photo: Reuters

The most popular Son of Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba aka Chairman aka Igwe At Tata Raphaël Stadium in
Kinshasa, Thursday, July 26, 2006
Photo: Reuters

Today, a witness said Jean-Pierre Bemba was not in charge of operations and discipline in the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), the group he founded.

A former officer in the accused’s militia, who started testifying this morning, said those responsibilities fell under the group’s Chief of General Staff, Colonel Dieudonné Amuli.

Testifying under the pseudonym ‘Witness D04-18’ at the International Criminal Court (ICC), he was questioned by defense lawyer Aime Kilolo-Musamba about the command structure of the MLC in the territory they controlled in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 2001 and 2003.

“The day-to-day management, the monitoring, the scheduling or the organization of the MLC came under the command of General [Dieudonné] Amuli with the assistance of the various directorates and his various commanders,” the witness said.

Asked by Mr. Kilolo-Musamba who was responsible for the discipline of soldiers, ‘Witness D04-18’ said it was General Amuli, with the assistance of the group’s intelligence directorate. He said this directorate routinely investigated cases of indiscipline and submitted its reports and recommendations to General Amuli.

However, General Amuli made the final decisions, and he could reject the directorate’s recommendations.

The witness stated that it was standard practice globally for day-to-day management of the army to be vested with the chief of general staff.

General Amuli is currently an operations chief of staff of the Congolese national army, which he joined along with other MLC troops following a 2003 peace pact.

“What was the role of Mr. Bemba in the MLC?” asked the defense lawyer.

“Bemba was the commander-in-chief,” responded the witness. “He was the one who chaired the Political/ Military Committee. He took action only if something went to his level.”

The witness explained that although field commanders would sometimes copy their reports to Mr. Bemba, he rarely reacted to them.

Describing Mr. Bemba as “a very rigorous man” and “strict,” the witness said even on the occasions he reacted to some reports, the responsibility to implement, respond, and provide oversight lay with the chief of general staff.

Prosecutors at the ICC charge that Mr. Bemba was in direct command and control of his troops deployed in the Central African Republic (CAR) during 2002-2003 and that he was able to issue direct orders to those troops.

They further charge that while Mr. Bemba knew that his troops were committing crimes, he did not stop or punish them.

Indeed, some prosecution witnesses have testified that Mr. Bemba was in regular and direct contact with his troops and that he communicated with his CAR-based commanders via radio, Thuraya satellite phone, and mobile phone.

Last August, retired French army brigadier-general Jacques Seara asserted that Mustafa Mukiza, who commanded the Congolese contingent in the conflict, was only able to maintain an administrative link with the group’s headquarters in Congo, regularly reporting on the situation in the conflict country and challenges he faced.

He said Colonel Mustafa’s messages, including reports of deaths and injuries, were specifically addressed to General Amuli.

General Seara said from his analysis of documents and interviews with senior officers from the accused’s militia and the Central African army, it was unlikely that Colonel Mustafa and Mr. Bemba were able to communicate directly.

In his testimony today, ‘Witness D04-18’ talked about the deployment of MLC troops into the neighboring country during a 2001 conflict. He said those troops did not have any direct contacts with their headquarters in Congo.

The witness said the chief of staff of the Central African army issued operational orders to the MLC soldiers, and it was to him and to that country’s defense minister that the Congolese troops reported.

The witness said by the time of the 2002-2003 conflict, he had left the military. As such, he was unable to testify to testify about the particular events over which Mr. Bemba is on trial.

The trial continues tomorrow.

One thought on “#CAR : Witness – #Bemba Wasn’t Responsible for #MLC Discipline

  1. so, we could quite liberally muse out loud saying that in a way, indicting MLC army’s commander in chief bemba, for massacres committed by MLC officers and men in central african republic, is mutatis mutandis, akin to indicting french president and french army’s commander in chief francois mitterrand for the crime of genocide et alia committed in rwanda by french army officers and men in 1990-1994 ?

    this is not a rhetorical question.

    forget about mitterrand being dead and gone along with his host of crimes and love affairs. LE PRESIDENT NE MEURT PAS! the president of the republic does not die. he is a legal person, and as such he must be made legally accountable for allegations of crimes that could be leveled at him by the offended party. who is the offended party under the circumstances? Rwanda? what is rwanda? who is “rwanda”? a crowd of 11 million people! that is not a person in law, is it? could the rwandan government legally act on behalf of the said crowd plenty of whom committed genocide, just like the rwandan government? … No, kagame and his government cannot be legally allowed to level genocidal charges at the president of the republic of France! nay! huh!

    kagame is the president of the republic of rwanda, remember! general kagame and his rebellion creditably stopped genocide quite all right, when the international community declined executing its genocide-stopping obligations, but from the strict legal point of view, president kagame and his government must be made legally accountable for the 1994 genocide and related crimes. In principle, the UN and all member states of what we jolly well call the international community are legally accountable for the 1994 genocide against rwandan Tutsi folks. rwanda, france, the USA etc are all equally responsible for that genocide. the aspects of commission and omission must be considered.

    kagame out of presidency might well consider a lawsuit, as a rwandan, against whoever he pleases, french president, U.S. president, name them, for genocidal allegations. but why wait until president kagame is stripped of his presidency to take the french government to court? elements of rwandan civil society could well do the job. the genocide survivors organization could task its lawyers to open such a lawsuit. they cannot pay the legal fee? rwanda government is legally bound to pay any such fee alongside any other fees that may be needed for genocide related justice to be done, for genocide survivors to be fully rehabilitated.

    ntarugera deo koya

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