Criminal Court Annuls Sanction against Former Congo's Vice-President

ICC overturns conviction of Congo warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba

ICC overturns conviction of Congo warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba

Bemba was found guilty in 2016 of crimes committed in the neighbouring Central African Republic (CAR) in 2002-2003.

He was acquitted after the Court of Appeal found, with objections from two judges, that the previous sentence had wrongly convicted him of criminal acts not related to the charges held against him.

In 2016, the ICC's judges unanimously found Bemba guilty on five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for abuses committed by his troops during a five-month rampage in the neighbouring auto.

It was also the first to determine whether a military commander bore responsibility for the conduct of troops under his control. The court called a status conference in his case for June 12, which Bemba's lawyer called "unacceptable" given that the maximum sentence on that charge is five years and Bemba has already been jailed for 10.

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

Before Friday's decision, the ICC had issued verdicts in six cases, with nine people being convicted and one acquitted, according to its website.?

It added that the Trial Chamber made serious errors in its assessment of whether Mr. Bemba took all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent, repress or punish the commission by his subordinates of the other crimes within the scope of the case.


Van den Wyngaert said Bemba would not immediately be released because a separate panel of ICC judges is still considering what sentence he should be given in a conviction for interfering with witnesses in his trial.

Bemba led the MLC party in the Democratic Republic of Congo and later became one of the country's four vice presidents in 2003 as part of a transitional government.

Judges are to decide "shortly whether Mr Bemba's continued detention is warranted", Van den Wyngaert said.

Next to the understandable rage of the victims, there is another very important aspect: If Bemba is released soon, as is expected, he will actively take a hand in Congo's politics.

"5,229 survivors of Bemba's atrocities participated in the ICC proceedings - for these courageous individuals, as well as thousands of other victims in vehicle, the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations will continue", he said.

In 2006, he lost a presidential run-off against young Joseph Kabila, son of the late leader.

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