Monday, 18 June, 2018

Congo Warlord Bemba Acquitted Of War Crimes

ICC overturns conviction of Congo warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba Hague court judges overturn ex-Congo VP Bemba's war crime convictions
Jeannette Daniel | 12 June, 2018, 14:40

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

"Mr Bemba can not be held criminally responsible for the crimes committed by MLC troops during the Central African Republic operation", she said, reading the ruling of a 5-judge appeal panel.

The sentence for witness tampering, however, is not likely to exceed the time already served by Mr. Bemba. Bemba's efforts to stop the crimes "extinguished his responsibility in full". Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert, Presiding Judge in this appeal, read a summary of the Judgment during a public hearing.

The court scheduled a hearing for Tuesday to discuss the issue.

"I think that is unacceptable".

"There's not even any question over it", Mende told Reuters by telephone.

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.

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Human rights group Amnesty International said the ICC's ruling was a "huge blow for the many victims" who had suffered during the war waged in the central African country.

Dissenting judges Sanji Mmasenono Monageng and Piotr Hofmanski said all the criminal acts for which Bemba was convicted fell within the scope of the ICCC case and they believe the trial chamber did not err when considering Bemba's actions once he learned of the crimes.

More than 5,000 survivors took part in the proceedings against Bemba, said Amnesty's head of global justice, Solomon Sacco.

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

It remains to be seen what Bemba will do once he is released.

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.

Frustration is rising in Congo against Kabila as the presidential election has been delayed since late 2016.

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