Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Jean-Pierre Bemba: Congo warlord's conviction overturned :: Kenya

Jean-Pierre Bemba: Congo warlord's conviction overturned :: Kenya

On Friday, June 8, the appellate court of the global criminal court in the Hague acquitted the former Vice-President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Jean-Pierre Bemba, who two years ago was sentenced to 18 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity, reports DW.

But his forces committed acts of extreme violence against civilians - crimes which the original judges said Bemba was made aware of but did nothing to stop.

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.

Furthermore, in the view of the Appeals Chamber majority, there was an apparent discrepancy between the limited number of crimes within the case's scope for which Mr. Bemba was held responsible and the Trial Chamber's assessment of which measures he should have taken.

He had been convicted of murder, rape and pillage for actions by fighters he sent to Central African Republic to back CAR's then-president Ange-Felix Patasse. Lawyers also told witnesses to lie about payments they had received, the summary said.

Bemba however remains behind bars in a separate case in which he was sentenced to one year in jail for bribing witnesses during his main war crimes trial. And this evidence was also presented to the appeal court judges.

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Bemba, wearing a suit and tie, showed little emotion as Presiding Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert reversed his convictions.

Congolese rebel warlord and Democratic Republic of Congo Vice President Jean -Pierre Bemba attends a court session.

"5229 survivors of Bemba's atrocities participated in the ICC proceedings - for these fearless individuals, as well as thousands of other victims in vehicle, the pursuit of truth, justice and reparations will continue".

But a judge has now said he can not be held responsible for their actions.

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said that Bemba had the right to return home if released, Reuters reported.

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