Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Congolese ex-Vice President Bemba acquitted of war crimes on appealNaija247news

Congolese ex-Vice President Bemba acquitted of war crimes on appealNaija247news

The Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), on Friday, made a decision to acquit Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and head of a rebel group in the country, on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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

On that basis, the Appeals Chamber concluded, by majority, that Mr Bemba's conviction must be reversed, that Mr Bemba can not be held criminally liable under article 28 of the ICC Rome Statute for the crimes within the scope of the case that were committed by MLC troops during the vehicle operation and that he must be acquitted thereof.

He had been convicted and sent to 18 years in prison in 2016.

As reminds the edition, of Jean-Pierre Bemba was charged that the rebel group under his leadership made a series of brutal murders and mass rapes during the campaign in support of the then President of the Central African Republic, Mr. ange-félix Patassé in 2002-2003.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda described the ruling as "regrettable and troubling".

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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.

"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", the human rights agency said. Judge Christine Van den Wyngaert, Presiding Judge in this appeal, read a summary of the Judgment during a public hearing.

The mention of candidacy raises the specter of a renewed rivalry between Bemba and the man who defeated him in that 2006 election, DRC President Joseph Kabila, who has spent 17 years in power.

In a separate case, he was convicted of coaching and bribing witnesses to give false testimony during his trial and is waiting for a decision on that sentence.

He said Bemba would probably go to Belgium to meet with his family there before returning to Congo after he is released.

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