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ICC acquits former Congolese Vice President, Bemba

12 June 2018

"The Appeals Chamber in this instant reverses the conviction against Mr Bemba. and in relation to the remaining criminal acts it enters an acquittal", Van den Wyngaert said.

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.

However, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC ruled that he could not be held responsible for crimes committed by his troops. Bemba also was the first person convicted by the court based on command responsibility.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed his sentence, urging judges to raise it to 25 years.

The sentence for witness tampering, however, is not likely to exceed the time already served by Mr. Bemba.

Congolese politician and former warlord Jean Pierre Bemba has the right to return home once the International Criminal Court releases him, Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said on Friday. Bemba's supporters in the packed public gallery were not so reserved; they cheered, whistled and hugged one another for so long that Van den Wyngaert threatened to halt proceedings if order was not restored. 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".

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

Responding to the acquittal, Solomon Sacco, Head of the International Justice team at Amnesty International, said: "This decision will be felt as a huge blow for the many victims of the "war against women" waged in auto".

Bemba, who was vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo from 2003 to 2006, was then ordered to pay a $323,670.00 fine to the court's fund supporting victims of atrocities.

More than 5,200 victims participated in Bemba's trial.

"Twenty years after its creation, has the ICC just scuttled itself?" she said in a statement.

ICC acquits former Congolese Vice President, Bemba