Bemba war crimes conviction overturned

Lester Mason
June 12, 2018

Rage, anger and lack of understanding - these were the emotions after the International Criminal Court (ICC) overturned former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba's convictions for war crimes and crimes against humanity in a 3-2 ruling, over charges of serious procedural errors.

Bemba was convicted in 2016 on charges of having committed war crimes by allowing his forces to go on rampage in Central African Republic killing people in 2002 and 2003.

Judge Monageng and Judge Hofmański found that all criminal acts for which Mr Bemba was convicted fell within the scope of the case that the Prosecutor had brought against him.

The trial two years ago of the court in The Hague considered the guerrilla leader guilty of the aforementioned crimes during actions of his militia, the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), between October 2002 and March 2003.

And the court found that Bemba bore the bulk of the responsibility for their actions.

The Appeals Chamber also dismissed as moot the appeals that Mr Bemba and the Prosecutor had brought against the sentence Trial Chamber III had imposed.

Mr Bemba has already spent almost a decade in the ICC's detention centre in The Hague.

Former Congolese rebel warlord and vice-president Jean-Pierre Bemba appears before the global war crimes court in the Hague January 12, 2009.

Bemba lost an appeal against that sentence, but the ICC still has to decide whether a new jail term will be imposed.

However, appeal Judge Van den Wyngaert said the judges in the original case had "ignored significant testimonial evidence that Bemba's ability to investigate and punish crimes in vehicle was limited".

Sacco said the ICC prosecutor's office and judicial authorities in vehicle "must learn from this decision and redouble their efforts to investigate and prosecute alleged perpetrators of crimes under worldwide law". Haynes said he likely would join his family in Belgium.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said on Friday that Bemba had the right to return home if released.

Frustration is rising in Congo against Kabila as the presidential election has been delayed since late 2016.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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