The International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was due to start on April 27, however, the ICC announced that the trial has been postponed until July 5. On April 27 the ICC will hold a status conference to discuss the admissibility challenge brought by the Defense for Bemba.
Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo grew up in Belgium and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Bemba became leader of the DRC's Mouvement de Libération du Congo (MLC). In 2002, President Ange-Felix Patasse of the Central African Republic (CAR) requested help from the MLC to put down a coup attempt. The MLC allegedly used systematic rape and torture against local populations to suppress political opposition in the CAR. More than 15% of the women in northern CAR are estimated to have experienced some form of gender based violence and many girls were exposed to HIV. Reports from the area show the extent of the damage that was inflicted by the MLC on the population and are highly disturbing to read. As leader of the MLC, Bemba is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes including charges of rape and torture.
On May 24, 2008, Bemba was arrested at his home in Belgium. Belgian authorities, in accordance with the ICC arrest warrant, transferred him to the ICC Detention Centre in The Hague on July 3, 2008 where he remains in ICC custody.