Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jean Martin Bemba: Profile of an assistant lawyer in the defense team of Klause Barbie

Jean Martin Bemba: he is a lawyer by profession and also former Minister of Justice under President Denis Sassou Nguesso from 1999-2005. Jean Martin Bemba who is an international acclaimed lawyer was born on the 13th of August 1942. He shot to international fame in 1987 as an assistant lawyer in the defense team of Klause Barbie. Mr Barbie according to the online dictionary Wikipedia is known as the butcher of Lyon, France. This for having personally tortured prisoners of the Gestapo while stationed in that city. And after the war, the United States Intelligence Service employed him for their anti-Marxist efforts and also helped him escape to South America. Klause Barbie is also suspected to among other actions in South America, contributed in the 1980 coup d’état and also in the capture of Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.  Jean Martin Bemba is an influential Congolese political leader and human rights activists who heads a political party called Progressive Union, abbreviated in French as UP. This party was formerly allied to President Denis Sassou Nguesso’s ruling PCT before falling apart, because according to Jean Martin Bemba, the ruling party was not respecting their treaty agreement.  Besides having had professional and political roles in France and in Congo, he also had continental functions. Jean Martin Bemba was the former chairman of the Union of Central African Lawyers. His deputy Jean Martin Bemba who knows and loves Cameroon, told me was the former chair of the Cameroonian Bar Council, Bernard Muna. It is a post that made him to meet several presidents of the sub region and in chief, late Omar Bongo Ondimba, with whom he became a close friend.

According to Jean Martin Bemba, late Omar Bongo was one of the principal sponsors of their association. He is also the chair of the National Council for the Defense of Human Rights abbreviated in French as CNDH. It is a government sponsored body or organization. He has been the head of this organization since 2009.  Jean Martin Bemba told me also that: The Congolese government’s plan is or was to have all institutions of the republic in place, but not for its work or function independently and professionally. The primary objective of a government that excels in duplicity is to have a respectful and prestigious facade to present to the international community, especially to the European Union and the United States. He concluded: those institutions won’t be allowed to function, either because the budget earmarked are never disbursed or those appointed are either incompetent or are not allowed to work professionally and independently. Nevertheless to the credit of Jean Martin Bemba, he transformed and made the National Human Rights Commission to operate as an independent organization that offered an ear to all complains of human rights abuses orchestrated by the state. As he worked hard and succeeded in making the institution independent, which as indicated earlier was not the objective of the government, he became an enemy of the state. Jean Martin Bemba had two charges against him from the government. 

The first was political, for the government and the president in particular, never appreciated the fact that, he had decided to withdraw his party from their alliance and the second charge against him was that, he was professionally listening to complains from victims of state brutality such as Colonel Marcel Nstourou. Hence the government framed him up with flimsy accusations that were concocted in Owando, at a famous holiday resort called Mombo Beach, owned by Colonel Chryst Bonaventure Engobo. Those who were there were: Vice Admiral Jean Dominique Okemba, Jean Francois Ndenguet, the ambassador of Senegal to Congo, Mr Nguimbi, who is Congo’s ambassador to Senegal, Privat Ndeka  and Francois Bikindou.    This doesn’t in any mean that, Colonel Engobo supported or was part of the plot. He is a business man and thus doesn't have any command on the plans of his clients.

From that macabre conclave held in Mombo Beach, emerged the floated claims, that were first published in the Troubadour newspaper, that, Jean Martin Bemba wanted to stage a coup d’état. It was in an attempt to abort the fallacious coup d’état, concocted by those people aforementioned  that, people who are or were judged closed to Jean Martin Bemba were frivolously arrested and one of them was Colonel Mbango. Colonel Mbango now jailed in a prison in Likouala, located in far northern tip of Congo, was the Police Commissioner of Kinkala. Kinkala is the headquarters of the Pool region. While Colonel Mbango after sustaining torture survived and is currently in prison on false charges, others held on false charges have not been lucky, they died at the Brazzaville central prison. Jean Martin Bemba is a passionate believer in international law and he is also a respected legal practitioner amongst his peers in the country.  

He is humane albeit sharp tongue, loquacious and proud. But he is also too bitter and disappointed against President Denis Sassou Nguesso.  He once told me that, he helped broker or reestablished conversational level agreement between Abdou Diouf, former President of Senegal and Denis Sassou Nguesso. Both men were no longer speaking to each other for reasons that he has refused to tell me. Jean Martin Bemba admires, Jean Charles Montesquieu. Hence he is a person who speaks up his mind and is a strong advocate of the separation of power. His other passion is to groom a new generation of  Congolese lawyers who will grow up to become strong and fearless defenders of the independence of the judiciary, in a country where the government does everything possible to defy the independence of the judiciary.The Congolese, which is an example of a brutal dictatorship, also hates separation of power as enunciated by French political philosopher Jean Charles Montesquieu in 1748. According to the online dictionary Wikipedia, Jean Charles Montesquieu is also known as Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de MontesquieuHe was born on the 18th January 1689 and died on 10th February 1755. He is generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French lawyer man of letters, and political philosopher who lived during the Age of Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers which is implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He did more than any other author to secure the place of the word despotism in the political lexicon. 

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