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Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; International Criminal Court: War Crimes Case Confirmed

(Oct. 26, 2010) On October 19, 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it was charging a former official of the Democratic Republic of the Congo with war crimes. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is accused of ordering an armed group in his command in 2002 into the Central African Republic (CAR), which borders the Congo on the north. Once across the border, the armed men committed a series of crimes including murder, rape, and pillaging. (ICC Confirms War Crimes Case Against Former DR Congo Leader, UN NEWS CENTRE (Oct. 19, 2010),
; Press Release, ICC, The Appeals Chamber Dismisses Mr. Bemba's Appeal against the Decision on the Admissibility of His Case (Oct. 19, 2010),

Earlier this year, Bemba challenged the ICC, arguing that the appropriate jurisdiction for the case should be the authorities in the CAR and that therefore the ICC should not try him. His challenge was dismissed on June 24. The appeals chamber of the ICC has now confirmed the dismissal as correct under the Rome Statute, which established the ICC (July 17, 1998, text on the ICC website,
). Article 17 (1)(b) of the Statute states that the ICC cannot admit a case when a country that has jurisdiction has investigated and decided not to prosecute. In this case, however, the CAR's handling of the matter did not qualify as “a decision not to prosecute,” since that country referred the case to the ICC. (UN NEWS CENTRE & Press Release, supra; for a discussion of a similar case and appeal, see Constance A. Johnson, International Criminal Court: Trial of Congolese Leader to Continue, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (July 14, 2010),