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ICC overturns ex-Congo VP Bemba's war crime convictions

ICC overturns ex-Congo VP Bemba's war crime convictions

In June 2016, Bemba was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

However, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC ruled that he could not be held responsible for crimes committed by his troops.

Bemba sent his militia, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), into neighbouring vehicle in October 2002 to quash a coup against the then president, Ange-Felix Patasse.

But the ICC has overturned his 2016 conviction by upholding his appeal against that ruling. That original verdict, rendered in March 2016, had determined that Bemba "failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent or repress the commission of crimes by his subordinates".

Bemba, a former Congolese senator and vice president, was the commander of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo when he was asked in 2002 and 2003 to send troops by President Ange-Felix Patasse in neighboring Central African Republic, or vehicle.

'The judges erroneously condemned Bemba for specific criminal acts, ' Van den Wyngaert stressed. Bemba's supporters erupted in cheers as the verdict was handed down, AFP reported.

"The carnage and suffering caused by those crimes are very real and they are recognized", she told journalists.

Following this Judgment, and while there is no reason to continue Mr Bemba's detention on the basis of the present case, it is for Trial Chamber VII to decide, shortly, whether Mr Bemba's continued detention is warranted in relation to his conviction for offences against the administration of justice.




Amnesty International called the acquittal "a blow" to the victims.

Karine Bonneau of the International Federation for Human Rights slammed Friday's decision.

"This was the first ICC case with a major focus on the use of rape as a weapon of war", she said.

Rights' advocates had hoped that Bemba's case would cement the precedent that political and military leaders could be held liable for the actions of troops under their command.

Bemba was also tried separately, alongside his lead defence lawyer, Aimé Kilolo-Musamba, and his case manager, Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, as well as a member of the Congolese Parliament and a defence witness.

Details of how the coaching of witnesses and bribery took place remained confidential because most of the witnesses at the bribery trial had testified behind closed doors.

It remains unclear whether Bemba intends to return to the country after his release.

Bemba, the son of a businessman, became rich during years of close association with former Congolese leader Mobutu Sese Seko. He entered government under current President Joseph Kabila in 2003 as part of a power-sharing deal that ended years of civil war.


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