"FROM THE TRIAL of JEAN-PIERRE BEMBA GOMBO - article published April 2019
Former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba is seeking €68.8 million (US$ 77.7 million) in compensation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his 10-year detention and alleged mismanagement of his assets by the court’s Registry.
The defense alleges that the court acted negligently in seizing and freezing Bemba’s properties without properly managing them. It contends that Bemba would have had a valid claim even if he had been convicted in the criminal trial.
Following an ICC request, in May 2008 Bemba’s bank accounts in Congo, Portugal, Belgium, and an unnamed country were frozen. Bank accounts in Belgium and Portugal in his wife’s name were frozen too. A family home in Brussels, various properties and parcels of land in Congo, and a villa and a boat in Portugal were also seized.
The defense says additional property was seized, apparently without judicial order. It included two villas, three motor vehicles, and a Boeing 727-100 aircraft at Faro airport in Portugal; a river cruiser, six aircraft, and several vehicles in Congo.
According to the defense, at the time of Bemba’s arrest, his Portuguese bank was settling invoices for the Boeing’s monthly parking and maintenance fee of €1,527. Once the account was frozen, the bank was unable to pay, and when Bemba requested in December 2010 to be given back the aircraft’s keys and documentation to lease it out, the ICC Registry responded in May 2011 that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) “had been unable to identify the key of the plane and thus it could not be handed over.”
Haynes said the OTP returned the keys in September 2018 following Bemba’s acquittal. By then, the plane had incurred a debt of €981,954 and is “now scrap.” Haynes said if the prosecution had handed over the keys earlier, the plane could have been moved to a location with lower or no fees, or it could have been sold to a buyer who offered €1 million"Read the full report in the attached press release.