Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

ICC acquits former Congolese Vice President, Bemba

File The ICC overturned the war crimes conviction of Congolese politician Jean Pierre Bemba on Friday File The ICC overturned the war crimes conviction of Congolese politician Jean Pierre Bemba on Friday
Sammy Stanley | 10 June, 2018, 23:16

Jean-Pierre Bemba was on Friday acquited of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He was also acquitted of crimes against humanity.

Bemba sent his forces into the neighboring Central African Republic (CAR) to aid President Ange-Felix Patasse, who was battling a series of coup attempts in 2002 and 2003.

But the ICC has overturned his 2016 conviction by upholding his appeal against that ruling.

Amnesty International said the victims who took part in Bemba's trial will continue to seek justice.

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 auto.

Still, she sought to claim something of a pyrrhic victory by noting that the judges did not deny Bemba's troops had committed atrocities "which resulted in great suffering in the Central African Republic".

"The decision to acquit Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is an important reminder that worldwide justice is only possible if all suspects receive stringently fair trials before an independent and impartial judiciary", Amnesty International's Solomon Sacco said in a statement Friday.

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Trial judges were also wrong in their finding that Bemba could in fact prevent crimes being committed by his MLC troops, they determined.

"For these fearless individuals, as well as thousands of other victims in auto, the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations will continue".

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo is seen in a court room of the ICC to hear the delivery of the judgment on charges including corruptly influencing witnesses by giving them money and instructions to provide false testimony and false evidence, in the Hague, the Netherlands, March 21, 2016.

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

The court in The Hague also declared that it will now "urgently" supervise another case against Bemba for offenses to the administration of justice in which he was convicted, for which he is still in jail.

It is noted that despite the justification of the Bamboo was not released because it needs to serve another year in prison on charges of exposing the bribery of witnesses.

Still, Bemba's release appears inevitable, and it comes six months before a presidential election is due in his home country.

After the Congolese war ended, Bemba laid down his arms and was awarded in 2003 one of four vice-presidential posts shared out among wartime rivals in a transitional government.

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